Charli XCX writes very good pop songs. This is a fact.
The lyrical mastermind behind songs such as ‘I Love It‘, Icona Pop’s global hit last year, and someone who has written for Britney Spears, Rihanna, Hilary Duff, Gwen Stefani, and many more, Charli XCX is a pop star on the rise following a very successful couple of years.
Hence, the release of her third (although only second released) album ‘Sucker‘ is very exciting news indeed, particularly when helmed by her Nordic punk-inspired trailer single ‘Break the Rules’, and her midtempo love song ‘Boom Clap‘ which featured prominently as the lead soundtrack tune from teen romance film The Fault In Our Stars. Clearly this is an album that is going for the jugular — in kitten heels.
The rambunctious vibe plays prominent on ‘Sucker’ — the opening title track is a fiery rawk-filled banger full of foul-mouthed aggression and irresistible beats, while Stefani-esque ‘Famous’ is a love letter to the ’90s, and lead single and album standout ‘Break the Rules’ is an electro-punk ode to losing your mind at a party, which despite the cliché subject matter, actually manages to succeed as a floor-filling party anthem.
Charli manages to slow down the vibrant vibe a touch, with the emotive sunset ballad ‘Die Tonight’ and the early Noughties-esque, guitar-led ‘Caught In The Middle’, adding some pensive reflection to proceedings. Her collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij on album closer ‘Need Your Love’ is a jangling, kooky way to close off the album which is more sonically adventurous than the overarching ‘pop-punk’ niche it has been neatly slotted into by its creator.
The punk influences course throughout the album, in subtle ways that warrant repeat listens — the Nordic, Sounds-esque punk on ‘Body of My Own’, the irreverence on ‘Breaking Up’, and the offbeat joy of ‘Doing It’. If every song doesn’t quite hit its intended target — ‘Hanging Around’ more than lives up to its listless title – then it’s small change compared to the energy and accuracy of this superb collection of punk-pop gems. Charli might have her head set on punk, but she’s still quite good at making our hearts go pop.