Charli XCX Collides Just Left of Pop Perfection with ‘CRASH’

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Singer-songwriter Charli XCX has represented a revolutionary force in the pop scene throughout her innovative discography, which includes 2019’s acclaimed “Charli” and the quarantine-inspired “how i’m feeling now.”

The English artist maintains this reputation for creativity throughout much of her March 18 release — with a few unfortunate slip-ups. 

“Good Ones” kicked off this project’s hype, receiving immediate critical praise. Possessed by angsty lyrics of self-sabotage and a danceable electronic beat, it’s no question why the single received some of the greatest attention Charli has seen since the 2018 track “1999.”

“I want the bad ones, ‘causе they’re all I know / I always let thе good ones go,” Charli sings in her smooth falsetto. 

Despite being released more than six months ago, the hype for “CRASH” failed to weaken after the release of “Good Ones,” thanks to a slew of electrifying singles. 

Charli bestowed upon listeners a dance-pop bop for the ages with “Baby.” An earworm hook, fiery finale and a spectacularly choreographed music video — a moment that should be etched into pop history — make “Baby” one of the crown jewels of “CRASH.”

Courtesy of Atlantic Records UK Charli XCX’s new album “CRASH” has high highs but hits some road bumps.

“New Shapes” and “Beg For You” prove Charli’s talent for tapping the most promising collaborators in the pop scene has not dwindled since her fan-favorite, star-studded 2017 mixtape, “Pop 2.” 

The anthemic “New Shapes” reunites Charli with previous collaborators Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek, making for a spectacular ‘80s-inspired synth-pop track. 

“Beg For You” marks Charli’s first release with rising star Rina Sawayama. However, no crumb of doubt is left whether the two singers were fated for collaboration. With its mesh of self-doubting lyrics and an infectiously danceable beat, “Beg For You” joins its fellow singles in adorning the project like a shining gem of pop.

The final teaser track “Every Rule” is the exception to this pattern. Despite its production from veteran Charli XCX collaborator and pop innovator A.G. Cook, the single falls flat. The simple synth instrumental from Cook never reaches a remarkable climax and is often grating. This uncharacteristically faulty production is given no help by the lyrical content.

While she’s never been known for groundbreaking lyrical content — focusing rather on creative production — “Every Rule” is still an unprecedented disappointment from Charli. The single is notably rife with the glamorization of cheating, despite romanticization of infidelity being the last thing pop music needs.

“’Cause I know it’s not fair / I’m hurting someone else instead,” Charli sings. “But I’ve got to say / I want it this way / These moments really set me free.”

It’s unlike the artist to be so regressive in her music and unfortunately, this bottom-tier track finds occasional company on “CRASH.”

Tracks like “Constant Repeat” and “Move Me” fail to add anything new to the tracklist. These tracks come off as disingenuous at worst and cliche at best. Despite her reputation for pushing the pop envelope, Charli still falls into the trap of mediocre filler. 

It’s unfair to label “CRASH” as a disappointment just because of these occasional pitfalls. The title track reignites hope as a spectacular introduction to the album. Reminiscent of a title sequence at the start of a sitcom, “Crash” launches Charli’s focus on the chaotic nature of love. 

“I’m about to crash into the water, gonna take you with me / I’m high voltage, self-destructive, end it all so legendary,” Charli sings as she equates falling in love to a car crash in the ‘90s-esque track. 

The lovesick “Lightning” and anti-nice-guy anthem “Yuck” similarly encapsulate Charli’s bittersweet relationship with romance and talent for making listeners want to dance with trail-blazing pop production. These tracks skillfully wrap up “CRASH” in time for a comfortable 30-minute run-time. 

“CRASH” is by no means perfect, but its brightest moments outshine the disappointments. Charli XCX continues to innovate the pop scene while paying homage to the genre’s roots with vintage motifs, proving she still has a firm grip on her rising pop icon title. 

“CRASH” is available on all streaming services. 

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