In the world of modern pop music, Charli XCX is a breath of fresh air.
Best known for co-writing hit songs "I Love It" with Icona Pop and "Fancy" with Iggy Azlea, Charli is coming into her own as a solo artist. On her second full-length studio album, Sucker, the 22-year-old British pop star has delivered 13 songs in a tidy 40 minutes.
The strength of Sucker comes from Charli XCX's immense talent as a songwriter. Charli (real name, Charlotte Emma Aitchison) has an uncanny ability to incorporate a wide range of genres from punk rock to electronic dance music to sugary sweet pop.
One of the summer's must popular songs, "Boom Clap" became a big hit from the soundtrack to the movie The Fault in Our Stars. The song is synth pop perfection, with a unique drum groove that kicks into gear as Charli sings "Boom boom boom clap!" Her romantic lyrics and vocals match the song perfectly.
The other landmark song on this album is "Break The Rules," which takes me back to when I was 12 years old and in love with Nirvana. Teen angst and punk energy come together with catchy melodies and exceptional production to make something truly powerful.
Charli's penchant for unapologetic punk rock comes right at the beginning of this album. Repeating "Fuck you, sucker!" in the opening track is a bold move that some people might love and some people might hate. "Breaking Up" shows Charli XCX taking on the bad girl image with attitude and a sense of humor.
Being a star is important to Charli XCX, and she's not shying away from that. "London Queen" is a slick electro-punk song that shows Charli's ambition to be a queen of pop music. Along the same vein, "Gold Coins" is an interesting song because it's sort of the Anti-"Royals" -- glorifying the extravagant lifestyle of private jets and champagne as opposed to rejecting it for something more modest.
The second half of the album shows more of an '80s pop influence. "Doing It" is a fun dance / party track, with shades of Sting in the evocative vocals and Zapp in the funky rhythm. "Body Of My Own" is an uptempo pop rock song that shows Charli's ability to deliver catchy melodic vocals. "Die Tonight" is a more modern track with a triumphant feeling that's pushed by an anthemic chorus and hard-hitting drums.
Sucker ends strong. "Caught in the Middle" is an excellent fusion of pop with R&B. The album closer, "Need Ur Luv," was done with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, and brings to mind the dark pop rock of The Black Keys, combining retro elements with ultra-slick modern production and lots of intricately woven layers underneath strong vocal lines.
Charli XCX is a force to be reckoned with. Beyond her immense talent in crossing musical boundaries, she's able to elicit emotion in a way that few others can. The sky is the limit for what she can do.
Get Charli XCX's latest music, news, and tour dates on her Zumic artist page.