Review of Charli XCX’s New Album Crash

Release after release Charli XCX keeps proving her synth-pop greatness to those paying attention.

Charli XCX is an English singer and songwriter known for her electro, hyper and dance-pop music. Charlotte Emma Aitchinson first rose to fame around the early 2010s with a couple of hits. Perhaps her most notable hit single Boom Clap was released as part of the soundtrack for the 2014 movie The Fault in Our Stars. The collaborations with Iggy Azalea and Icona Pop alongside constant acclaimed album releases throughout the decade made her a name to watch out for. On March 18 she’s released her fifth studio album titled Crash and unsurprisingly it’s already being lauded as a masterpiece.

 

The Tracklist

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Tom Rose/shutterstock

When you listen to the album on Spotify you’ll see Charli chose to present some songs to the listeners as ‘stories’. The 12 track album totals 34 minutes.

The title track, Crash, is the first song Charli introduces. She says, “It’s really important to the universe of the album,” and that “it sets the tone” for the rest of the tracklist. The main themes of power and self-destruction are sprinkled over the track as well. She additionally mentions Janet Jackson as a key influence.

New Shapes is the second song of the album and was released as a single on November 4. The concept of New Shapes is used as a contrast between darkness and light. Basically, it’s referring to falling for someone in the dark but then seeing them in a new light in the morning. The song has an incredible chorus with Charli and Christine and the Queens singing together. Caroline Polachek is on the bridge.

Good Ones is the lead single of the album. Released a while back on September 2, the song is a total dance bop with conflicting lyrics. Charli sings about “letting the good ones go” due to her inability to be riskier with people. She says about the track, “The song’s about moving away from someone who is caring, supportive, stable and safe, and run towards a more dangerous and toxic person…”

The electro-pop beats come full throttle in the fourth track Constant Repeat. Futuristic sounds paired with lyrics like “Do you realize I could’ve been the one to change your life?” make for a dance-y somber-y song that only Charli XCX knows how to excel at.

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Sterling Munksgard/shutterstock

Beg for You with the amazing Rina Sawayama was released on January 27 as a single. A big TikTok hit, the song sees the singers beg for a lover’s attention. It samples two previous songs Cry for You by the artist September and Don’t Cry by the Milk Inc band.

Track six Move Me is a slightly more stripped-down song. Charli does perhaps the best singing on the album here with themes of pushing away someone who is clearly right for her but she just can’t accept the love due to her destructive habits.

Baby brings the dance beat back immediately. The song also features a music video and serves as the last teaser before the release of the full album. The track sounds like an 80s club hit and it has all too catchy lyrics.

Lightning starts slow with Charli singing in a slightly distorted voice only for it to go away in the head-bopping chorus. The lyrics are simple but effective. There’s a decent chance that you will have the tune of “you struck me down like lightning, lightning” stuck in your head for a while after you listen to it.

Every Rule, the ninth track of Crash, is more lyric-heavy. The song is about looking back in detail on a somewhat forbidden love with both parties cheating on their partners. Certainly, the song is a good piece of the album but perhaps not its most memorable.

Yuck continues themes of wrong love but this time with the catchiest chorus on the album. The song is barely over two minutes long but you won’t be forgetting that Yuck chorus anytime soon.

The second to last song, Used to Know Me, is more of a classic Charli song. She described the chorus as “anthemic and a little bit shout-y’. The song is clearly going to be a club favorite for good reason.

Twice is the last track of the album. This song is about the end of the world and Charli wrote the song with that in mind. She says she wondered, “who I would think about, who I would miss and whether I would feel like I lived my life exactly the way I wanted to live it,” if the world was ending now.

 

The Crash Reception

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Christian Bertrand/shutterstock

As is often the case with a new Charli XCX album, the critical reception has been nothing but positive. Currently, it has an 81/100 on the aggregate site Metacritic. The Independent gave Crash five out of five stars, stating “it’s the biggest, plushest, most mainstream release to date” of Charli’s career. Pitchfork on their review of the album mentioned how Crash is not written to hit the Top 40 charts and that is a good thing. Charli’s pop persona and music may have too many ‘sharp edges’ which only makes her content better ultimately.

Charli XCX has stated before that she sees music in color. Her vision of the synths and hyper pop definitely proves just that. If you close your eyes and listen to this album, you may see a bunch of colors like fireworks splashing everywhere. That’s a testament to her greatness and this album’s clear success.

 

Photo: Cubankite/shutterstock

 


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