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Charli XCX - Crash Music Album Reviews

Charli XCX - Crash Music Album Reviews
Charli’s best full-length project since Pop 2 is a canny embrace of modern and vintage pop styles by one of its most sincere students.

In 2022, Charli XCX is bigger and brasher, styled like a vixen from an old Russ Meyer flick, snarling and mashing her foot into the floor on Saturday Night Live, singing hooks that slap you with fistfuls of neon goo. On the album art for Crash, she hangs on a windshield as if she leaped there from the road, cut and bleeding and ready to fight. “I’m high voltage, self-destructive, end it all so legendary,” she sings on the album opener, charging up over a new jack swing beat and a distorted guitar with vocals that could whip up a small tornado. It’s cute to be a baddie, but it’s really fun to be bad.

Crash marks the end of a five-album deal Charli signed with Atlantic when she was 16, a 13-year engagement that has often seemed more trouble than it was worth; she says the label has delayed her releases and tried to manipulate her image. (“If you want a puppet, just go and get yourself a puppet,” she once recalled telling her bosses.) Crash has a serious point to make about how ruthlessly major labels can treat the young, female stars that line their shareholders’ pockets. But in the album’s visuals, Charli spectacularizes her personal struggles with a knowing wink and more than a little camp, like Lady Gaga bleeding out at the VMAs while flashbulbs click.

So forget the idea of a lackluster project to close out contractual obligations—Charli makes every second of Crash count. The album has the range of a greatest-hits compilation, with kinetic pop-funk and textured dream-pop as well as banging Eurodance and post-internet glitch, but the new sounds she explores are built on a focused distillation of her own music’s wild pendulum swings. It’s as if the goth-in-training of True Romance, hell-raising brat of Sucker, fembot of Pop 2, and unfiltered sharer of how i’m feeling now got together for one last blowout.

Charli’s collaboration-focused mixtapes proved she was among the best curators in modern pop. On Crash, she cashes in the chips she acquired as a Top 40 songwriter, mobilizing a cast of the industry’s most reliable hitmakers and circling back to past collaborators who she was early to spotlight. A bid for pop excellence doesn’t get much better than calling up Rami Yacoub, the co-producer of “…Baby One More Time,” who co-wrote the phenomenal, Cameo-inspired “Lightning.” Producer Ariel Rechtshaid brings the song to life with flamenco-inspired nylon guitar noodling and the most delightfully ’80s thing of all, orchestra hits. “Tell me what you want and I’ma give it to ya/Like lightning,” Charli sings, a cheeky nod to the stereotype of pop stars as factory workers churning out radio fodder, in a pummeling chorus scientifically designed to destroy your favorite Friday night footwear.

Like her late collaborator SOPHIE, who famously licensed “Lemonade” to McDonald’s, Charli is fascinated with pop as product. “I’m interested in the concept of selling out,” she tweeted in 2020. Take her snark with a pinch of salt—she has executive-produced all her projects since 2014’s Sucker—but on Crash she draws freely from commercial hits, with sly references to a sweet escape and the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” a song Charli covered in early live shows, as well as audacious samples. “Used to Know Me” is a hair-tossing Pride party anthem that interpolates Robin S., while the Rina Sawayama collaboration “Beg for You” flagrantly rips September’s much-memed “Cry for You,” and thanks to an airy post-chorus, as well as harp plucks that recall both millennium-era Darkchild productions and Erika de Casier, feels as in tune with the textures of today’s forward-thinking pop as much as it is a love letter to the classics.

That duality is what makes Crash so effective. Charli has said she wanted to make a major label record, to serve “main pop girl.” But her music has too many sharp edges for many of Crash’s songs to frictionlessly fit on to Top 40 playlists, and the album is all the better for it. “Baby” is a retro-futuristic dance-pop confection that imagines the sound of Yaz making a city pop record in 1983, while “Every Rule,” produced by A. G. Cook and Oneohtrix Point Never, is a unexpectedly tender swan song to a snuffed-out love affair, where bright synths scuttle like a beetle through safety-orange paint. When Charli does experiment with radio-friendly styles, it’s with a wry twist. “Yuck” is a cynical older sister to “Kiss Me More”—a song that itself incorporated elements of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”—in which Charli nods to pop’s sensual side but is repulsed by storybook seduction. “All these butterflies make me sick,” she sneers of some mushy would-be Casanova over strutting pop-funk. As the ’90s teen queen she played in “Fancy” might say: Ugh, as if!

Charli’s previous music created fissures and disruptions within pop, but Crash’s best moments come close to perfecting it. “Constant Repeat” is a carefree trancey soufflé that catches flight with pitch-shifting vocals that swoop through different layers of the atmosphere. Produced by Lotus IV, it’s as addictive as his and Charli’s previous link-up, “Gone,” and then some. “Got me on repeat,” Charli sings as the song closes, her voice surrounded with coos and glittering fragments of chatter, adding an intoxicating sparkle to a song that already appears lit from within.

Joyful moments feel particularly victorious given that Charli has recently spoken of feeling disillusioned and burned out. If she seemed, for a time, to be stuck on the hyperpop color wheel of doom, Crash is how it feels to take a sledgehammer to the screen and look around with eyes wide open. Despite a couple of slightly weaker moments (oddly, the album’s lead singles), Crash is Charli’s best full-length project since Pop 2, a canny embrace of modern and vintage pop styles by one of its most sincere students. It sets a bar for creative mainstream pop: the ruthless, intoxicating dream factory that can chew you up and spit you out and leave you coming back for more.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Charli XCX - Crash Music Album Reviews Charli XCX - Crash Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, March 24, 2022 Rating: 5

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