"Charli" Album Review

The goddess and savior of pop, Charli XCX, blessed us with a new album on Friday, September 13. The self-titled album dropped after six singles were released (she loves to feed us) and the visuals for this era have been OFF. THE. CHARTS. Charli is also famous for having loads of features on her albums and this is no exception. You'll always be able to find someone you like — whether it's Lizzo, Troye Sivan (who is featured twice!), Cupcakke, or Clairo. The album also has an amazing progression from classical pop-type songs to PC Music/Hyperkinetic pop — reflecting Charli's growth as an artist. So, whether you're a current angel or an angel who's going to be converted after you stream "Charli", listen up because I'm about to deep dive into this album, track by track. 

1) Next Level Charli - This song is an amazing opener to the album. She shows she is not here to play and comes right out the gate with an absolute banger. While listening, I felt like speeding in my car along a cliffside and having fun doing it. This song is versatile enough to be played in the club or for a jam session in your room.

2) Gone ft. Christine and the Queens - This is one of my personal favorites off the album. Both of the singers give some great vocals, Christine sings in French, and the song reminds me of every time I have felt out of place in a social interaction.

3) Cross You Out ft. Sky Ferreira - Another BANGER. I honestly never saw a collaboration between these two working out because their styles are so different. But oh, how wrong I was. The result of this unlikely mesh is a grungy song about getting over someone you had feelings for.

4) 1999 ft. Troye Sivan - Probably her biggest release from this album. It's a great pop song that's super catchy and nostalgic. Troye and Charli know how to make a very radio-friendly hit, because I'm sure each and every one of us can relate to wanting to go back to when everything was easy in our childhood — when we didn't have to worry about climate change, our rights being taken away, or impending nuclear war.

5) Click ft. Kim Petras and Tommy Cash - Let's get one thing straight. I love this song. Well, almost all of this song. Specifically, everything that isn't Tommy Cash. Charli and Kim ate this RIGHT up, with Kim doing her quintessential "I get what I want" vibe. One of the more experimental songs on the album, it combines elements of classic pop with electric and grunge music — whoever said the outro sounded like "monster trucks having sex" was on to something because it does, and I loved every second of it.

6) Warm ft. HAIM - When I first listened to this song, I didn't love it to be totally honest. After listening to it a few times, however, it really grew on me. HAIM's vocals are layered with Charli's in a way that is slightly ethereal and slightly subdued. It's the most chill song on the album so far, and the lyrics are really personal — it's all about confessing your love to someone and really putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way.

7) Thoughts - This song is reflective about feeling alone, and the fear that those who are supposed to be your friends aren’t really there for you. The title and the message of the song are super cohesive — it’s more of a diary entry than a song that’s meant to convey an outward emotion. While I liked the song, it wasn’t my favorite just because I felt like there could have been more to it.

8) Blame it On Your Love ft. Lizzo - The second single that was released from this album, Charli got the queen of EVERYTHING aka MOTHEREFFIN LIZZO on the track! I actually quite liked this song — the lyrics were recycled from “Track 10”, the last song off of Charli’s previous release Pop 2, which threw many diehard fans for a loop. I loved the upbeat nature of this song, and it’s a nice interlude between two fairly heavy solo tracks. Lizzo’s part was SO good (as always!), but I wish she’d had more time on the song — her verse was remarkably short. 

9) White Mercedes - Another really reflective song, this time about how she doesn’t deserve a lover. She sings about how she is worried about hurting someone because she can’t trust herself to open up in the same way that the other person has. I think anyone who has been in a really amazing relationship has felt this way at times, like you’re terrified of hurting the other person. I really liked this song, and this might be my favorite solo song off the album.

10) Silver Cross - This is a really amazing song about keeping someone close to you and comforting them when they need it, which really shifts away from the self-deprecating narrative of the previous song. The verses are about as stripped down as Charli gets in her songs, but she builds up the chorus to have elements we’ve come to know (and love) from her. 

11) I Don't Wanna Know - This song is so mellow and vulnerable and beautiful and continues what “Silver Cross” started — we get a much more open, stripped-down version of Charli. I like the song from an auditory standpoint, but personally I wish she had done more with the lyrics, especially since it’s clear there’s real emotion behind what she’s singing. 

12) Official - I actually really love the message behind this. Charli sings about how materialistic things and traditional gestures of affection really don’t matter in the long run. She sings really honestly about how being with someone, knowing their intricacies, and having intense feelings for them matter so much more than the big, over-the-top gestures that our consumer culture has normalized as being what ‘love’ is about. 

13) Shake It ft. Big Freedia, Cupcakke, Brooke Candy, and Pabllo Vittar - What do you get when there's a PC infused twerk anthem? "Shake It". This song has some of the best production on the album, and it's such an acquired taste. At parts it sounds ultra-robotic and then it shifts to sounding like it's underwater. The blending of different genres is completely unique and only Charli could find a way to reconcile Big Freedia's classic New Orleans bounce style with Cupcakke's Chicago drill-adjacent flow with Brooke Candy's very alternative style. She manages to do it flawlessly, while also making sure it has her signature hyperkinetic sound. 

14) February 2017 ft. Clairo and Yaeji - This song is about begging for forgiveness from someone you've wronged (in Charli's case, a specific incident from February 2017). This song is honestly beautiful and moving while still having key elements of pop. Clairo lends layering vocals to the track, and it's sparkly and sad and reminds me exactly of Robyn's "Dancing on My Own". Yaeji takes the outro (it sounds like a radio transmission from another world), and sings in Korean, highlighting that you don't need to understand what is being said in order to feel the emotions behind it.

15) 2099 ft. Troye Sivan - This is the last track on the album, and it goes out with a bang. It’s a response to three songs in Charli’s discography in a way that shows she is very thoughtful in how she goes about creating her music. This song reminds me a bit of “Next Level Charli” in the way that it’s almost a continuation of the first song — sonically as well as emotionally. This song also references “1999”, but instead of looking back to the past, it dares the listener to go forward, and move fast. Lastly, this song feels similar to “Track 10” in its calmer moments, transporting you to a futuristic fantasy world.

Make sure to stream “Charli” on all platforms now! 

Note: I didn’t rank the songs out of ten like I normally would because some readers might think I’m insane.

 

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