Charli XCX, artist and social rights activist, released her third studio album titled, “Charli,” on Sept. 13, 2019.
Reminiscent of Britney Spears’ “Blackout,” the album provides a unique twist with its experimental and futuristic-like production as fans have probably come to expect from the artist since her debut in 2013. Quite a bit of autotune can be heard throughout the body of work, used masterfully to create the Star Trek-like sound XCX has came to be known for.
The album opens with the dreamy, “Next Level Charli.” Self described by XCX as an appreciation song for her fans she writes, “This song is for you guys. Thank you for loving me.” The song sets a nice tone for the album through its use of heavy synths and bizarre instruments (symbols, etc) to create the airy atmosphere.
The lead single calls back on XCX’s feelings of nostalgia about her childhood, appropriately titled “1999”, featuring Troye Sivan. The track stands out, and not for the right reasons. As a standalone track, it still feels sufficient in spite of its riskless nature. Perhaps in today’s age of music the meaning of a lead single has become skewed, but the sole purpose of them is to set the tone for an upcoming album, not just simply to create a hit. “1999” feels as though it has lost sight of this and just wants to create yet another forgettable radio hit. Despite the disappointing result of the collaboration, XCX and Sivan join forces once more for the album closer, “2099” and redeem themselves by doubling-down and fully committing to the natural distinct whisper-ness of their voices.
Once the album hits its stride, it is hard to quit listening. Each song plays off of one another and work to build on the feelings of euphoria and (purposeful) perplexity set loosely in place in the first half. Where the album finally reaches its peak quality is on track 12, “Official”. If listeners can make it through the rocky first half of the record, they will be treated to this near-perfect cutting edge love ballad.
Throughout the record, XCX shows the world why she is the new queen of artful, experimental pop. She takes risks which, mostly, pay off for her and will surely satisfy and continue to build her large fanbase.