Charli XCX – Charli

Returning to the studio with PC Music’s A.G. Cook, Charli XCX's new album is boundlessly liberating, decadently indulgent, and irresistibly danceable

Album Review by Bethany Davison | 10 Sep 2019
  • Charli XCX – Charli
Album title: Charli
Artist: Charli XCX
Label: Asylum Records
Release date: 13 Sep

As Charli XCX, Charlotte Aitchison has had an interesting career. From her almost gothic debut True Romance, through to the more recent, explosive bubblegum pop mixtapes, she's consolidated her sound to great critical acclaim and adoration from her fans, while rarely breaking through to mainstream heights, highest accolades afforded to Boom Clap and a feature on Icona Pop's I Love It. Though perhaps it's this lack of consistently focused media attention that allows her music to flourish – PC music, after all, transcends pop. It exists as a genre that is as distinctive as it is outlandish, and in the case of Charli, as explosive as it is introspective.

Nurtured over a three-month span in an intimate studio with producer A.G. Cook, Charli is a more refined, polished project than what we've previously seen from Aitchison. With her third studio album, she's finally found the edge she's been working toward as Charli explores highs and lows, echoed in a soundscape of robust synths and slow-moving ballads, funky claps and explosive rap sequences. What's more, it's a record that thrives in an energy that begs an incessant urgency to dance.

Familiar names resurface in Tommy Cash, Brooke Candy and Pabllo Vittar with new names like Sky Ferreira, Haim and Christine and the Queens welcomed. The latter's luscious collaboration on Gone is indisputably the record’s highest point with its synthy depths, revealing lyricism and alluring feature from Héloïse Letissier, the perfect introduction for PC music newcomers.

In its exploration of feeling, dissection of relationships, and insecurities, Charli grows to be embellished in a fresh honesty new for Charli XCX. If Cross You Out is a brooding, sultry slow-dance, Shake It is a wilding celebration and an exceptional example of Aitchison’s reputation to produce collaboratively; CupcakKe begins in whispers, Brooke Candy mixed in metal to resemble an almost robotic edge. The real beauty, though, is how it is simultaneously playful, with complementary tongue-in-cheek verses from CupcakKe and Tommy Cash.

Charli is an expansive record, flooded with joy and heartache, consolidated in its array of features. Alongside indulgently unadorned ruminations on fear and love, the record is boundlessly liberating, decadently indulgent, and irresistibly danceable. Aitchison has delivered her greatest work yet. 

Listen to: Gone, Shake It, Cross You Out