charlixcx

Azealia Banks recently offered this assessment of her position in the music industry (amongst other NSFW anecdotes): “I exist in like cool, artful, hipster world; I’m in this hipster snob world where people don’t listen to Lady Gaga”. Although a self-serving simplification, it’s still one that few artists manage to disprove. Nevertheless, with her second album ‘Sucker’, Charli XCX seems to be giving it a pretty good go. Having previously collaborated with Icona Pop and Iggy Azealea and giving them monster hits to tag along on, it may have surprised a few when she announced she was working with Weezer and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. The result is an album that is unashamedly pop but with a refreshing amount of self-awareness and craft to back it up.

Opening and title track ‘Sucker’ is a delightful piece of sugar coated electro pop, delivered like Marina and The Diamonds in her pomp and determined to prove a point. The repetition of “fuck you, sucker” is a pretty bold way to begin an album for an 22 year old who has already achieved massive commercial success. You’d be forgiven for thinking it a little misguided, too, but that’s the beauty of it: Charli seems to appreciate and critique her precarious position in pop while also acknowledging the rewards that she has reaped from it. “Sucker”, it seems, refers as much to her own burgeoning stardom as it does to those people who doubted her in the first place.

The album chugs away relentlessly like a grinding hit machine, spewing out the catchy loops and strangely sorrowful lyrics of ‘Gold Coins’. Ironically the tone is far more euphoric when she sings of crashing parties pre-fame in ‘Famous’, and while other artists might come across disingenuous, Charli XCX gets away with it. On top of this, throw in a track the standard of ‘Boom Clap’ and you already have as much content as most modern pop records. It’s a modern ballad of the post dubstep persuasion, as if Jai Paul had snuck in to Madonna’s studio post-production and started playing around with the knobs.

Throughout ‘Sucker’ Charli XCX shows, in case there was ever any doubt, that she can make it on her own, and quite literally in the weirdly masturbatory anthem ‘Body of My Own’. Impressively she manages to deliver bubble-gum pop with substance, part shout-a-long riot grrrl empowerment, part charming teeny pop (just listen to those lyrics in ‘Breaking Up’). To lift a line from the retro sounding ‘Doing It’, though, as long as she’s “doing it like we’re doing it now”, then she might just manage mainstream success while avoiding the hipster scorn.

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