For the first time in my life, I’ve actually felt old for disliking this album so much.
‘Charli’, Charli XCX’s first studio album in five years (and only her third overall), is meant to be her most personal album to date. But I can’t get past how disjointed and full on the album is… from track one.
Throwing what feels like literally everything and the kitchen sink at production, songs are what many deem “future pop.” In fact there’s a song on this album (2099 with Troye Sivan) that she has come out and said is the definition of future pop.
This is what scares me. Last I checked, future pop requires some kind of structure and form of melody asides from copious amounts of autotune and a bevvy of beeps and boops. If this is the future of music, it’s a ride I don’t want to get on.
At this point, I must stress I went searching online to understand if I was in fact going through a mid-life crisis and was the only one who felt overwhelmed by this album. I’ve said it before in a review, but Coco Chanel wasn’t wrong by recommending you take one thing off before leaving your home and this rule definitely could have been applied here.
Deep down under all the blinding lights and shiny objects, there is good music here – it’s just buried under a mountain of ideas.
Buried in amongst the nine (!!!) collaborations on the album are some standout tracks which do actually capture modern pop music. Once you manage to make it past the first track, some excellent tunes in the form of ‘Gone’ (featuring Christine and the Queens) and ‘1999’ (featuring Troye Sivan) appear. Both of these songs have featured on many a playlist of mine since their release and it feels good to hear them again.
It’s just disappointing most of the album doesn’t follow suit.
From this point, the album is a bit of a rollercoaster. There are a few more ups and a lot more downs that carry this album through to a close.
But the thing I cannot get past is the level of autotune used. Cher may have used it to good effect, but it feels like someone needs to be put back on their learner’s license for its use. There is WAY too much throughout and for me it detracts from the talent Charli has. She sounds like an autobot that somehow found itself trapped in a recording studio and thought “I’ll make an album while I’m here”, instead of the artist that is Charli XCX showcasing her talent.
I appreciate lyrically, somewhere amongst the chaos is an honest record, but the amount of smoke and mirrors applied dilutes her messages and stories.
I found it incredibly hard to listen to end to end and perhaps that’s the future of pop… the death of the album (and this reviewer’s spare time).
Either way, I am less than impressed with ‘Charli’ as a whole and I feel it promised a whole lot more than it delivered.
VERDICT : 2/5.
MUST LISTEN : Gone, 1999, Blame It On Your Love.