Over the last several years, Charli XCX has become one of the most interesting and innovative artists making Pop music. She has become totally unafraid of pushing all boundaries and breaking all barriers in the Pop genre, and this has made her become one of the best and most exciting artists of her generation. Ever since she emerged in the early 2010s, Charli XCX has had a rebellious side when it comes to her music. After years of teetering on the edge, she ripped all the chains off in 2017 with the release of Pop 2. This is a futuristic Hyper-Pop record that was nothing like any other mainstream Pop coming out at the time. It was futuristic and unpredictable, and it ended up inspiring a whole new generation of Pop music makers who do not play by the rules. After a slew of stand-alone singles, Charli XCX released her album Charli in 2019. This was her most well-loved project up until that point. It was exciting and unconventional and unlike any other Pop music being made. She followed this up with 2020s how i’m feeling now, which was somehow better than the album that preceded. Both of these records are universally acclaimed, and they are easily two of the best Pop records of the 2010s. Because of the quality of her last two records, Charli XCX’s new album Crash Has been highly anticipated. With that being said, here is how I feel about Charli XCX’s Crash. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about this record, and also comment what your favorite songs from it are.
It is evident from the first song on this record(and from the singles that preceded this record) that Charli chose to dive headfirst into the craze of music influenced by 80s Synth-Pop and New Wave that has taken over Pop music over the last year or so. After seeing the success of artists like Dua Lipa and The Weeknd, why wouldn’t she go this route? ‘Crash’ is a song that is definitely inspired by 80s Pop-Rock ballads. The drum pattern and guitar riff is so reminiscent of a certain kind of 80s Pop-Rock. The riff and beat make me think of artists like Eddie Money or 38 Special; there is even a Power-chord heavy guitar solo that ends the song. Of course, the song is sprinkled with the kind of strangely distorted synths and sound effects one would expect from a Charli song. But for the most part, this feels like an 80s Pop-Rock ballad. On ‘Crash,’ Charli is singing about how she seems to self-destruct to end a relationship. The only way she knows how to truly end things is to blow the whole thing up in her and her partner’s faces. Following this, we get ‘New Shapes,’ which features two frequent collaborators of hers, Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek. This was the second song released as a single in anticipation of this record. To be honest, I was not overly thrilled about this track when I first heard it. It has grown on me a bit since I first heard it, but it still underwhelms me. This song has a drum pattern and synth-driven melody which reminds me of artists like Belinda Carlisle and Tiffany. Unlike most Charli XCX songs, though, there are no sound effects or vocal effects or any elements in the song that give it some flair. It honestly just sounds like a random Synth-Pop song you would hear in some compilation of one-hit wonders from the 80s Unfortunately, neither Caroline Polacheck nor Christine and the Queens add anything special to this song either. In ‘New Shapes,’ Charli and her features are talking about someone they know that they can’t be with. They both want different things, and Charli and her friends feel it would not work out. Next, we have ‘Good Ones,’ which was the first single released from this record. It also has an 80s Synth-Pop feeling to it; this one has more of a New Wave feeling than the song that precedes it, though. The tone and overall feeling of this song remind me more of artists like Flock of Seagulls and The Romantics. One thing I have to comment on in this song is the chorus. It is extremely catchy and fun, and I enjoy it so much every time I hear it. On ‘Good Ones,’ Charli is commenting how she always goes for partners that are bad news. If you’re nice and predictable, she’s probably going to pass you up. ‘Constant Repeat’ has quickly become a fan favorite from this record, and it is easy to see why. This is another song that takes the 80s Pop route that sounds a lot like Laura Branigan, Belinda Carlisle, or Tiffany. ‘Constant Repeat’ takes way more risks, though; it has more of that other-worldly and futuristic element that Charli is known for putting into her music. The melody and beat for this song feel a little off in the best way; it almost feels like an 80s Pop track from a slightly different dimension. I love the sound effects and glitchy properties that come in at the end of this song, as they give it some extra texture. On ‘Constant Repeat,’ Charli is calling out her ex for not treating her right and letting her go. She is making sure he knows he screwed up by not staying with her.
When I first heard about this song when it was announced as a single(it was the third single released before this album came out) I was very excited. Along with Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama is one of my favorite artists making music today. This song is an interpolation of the early 2000s Euro-pop hit by September called ‘Cry For You.’ Now, I know some people have been a little disappointed by ‘Beg For You,’ I personally love it. It is one of my favorite songs of the year. It does not have the kind of weird distortion moments or sound effects you would expect from a Charli XCX song, and I feel like most people wanted this from ‘Beg For You.’ I love the song ‘Cry For You, though, and I feel like Rina and Charli do a great job honoring it. Their voices go so well together and go so well with this kind of instrumental. In ‘Beg For You,’ Charli and Rina are expressing their infatuation with someone in their lives. They want to be with this person badly but don’t want to seem desperate. The next track, ‘Move Me,’ is the most off-the-wall song from this record up until this point. It is another favorite of mine from this record. This song has a sort of Futuristic Cloud Pop-Trap. I can’t even think of who to compare this sound too because it stands out so much. The melody has a Disco and Euro-Pop feeling to its tone, and this kind of melody of a slow Trap best sounds so cool and interesting. ‘Move Me’ is also full of awesome sound effects which add to the song. There are also distorted guitar notes and strange vocal effects throughout the song. I imagine this song would be awesome to see performed live. ‘Move Me’ is about an ex Charli pushed away who she should have tried to make it work with. This person was there for her at her lowest points, and she just didn’t realize how good they were for her at the moment. Following this, we get ‘Baby,’ which is the fourth single from this record. After the wackiness and inventiveness of the last two tracks, this one seems very tame. It is another along that is very reminiscent of basic 80s Pop music. Nothing about this one stands out much to me. The vocal delivery for the song is cool, but the instrumental is pretty flat and basic in my opinion. Similar to a few earlier songs, this one just feels bland compared to what I’m used to from Charli. In ‘Baby,’ Charli is asserting herself and letting her potential partner know that she is coming for them. She knows she can be irresistible, and she will do what she needs to do to make this person hers. Following this, we get ‘Lightning,’ which is another song influenced by 1980s New Wave. It is another song that reminds me of artists like The Romantics or Flock of Seagulls. Unlike the song that precludes it, ‘though,’ it does have extra elements of pizzazz that make it special. Throughout the song, there are vocal effects, distorted synths, and glitches that stand out and make the song special. In ‘Lightning,’ Charli is talking about the sparks and energy between her and a significant other. No matter how much she resists it, she can’t help but feel drawn to this person.
Even though it is the most low-key song on the record to this point, ‘Every Rule’ is probably one of the most surprising. ‘Every Rule,’ which was the fifth single from the record, is a slow and soft 90s R&B type of feeling to it. I have never really heard Charli go down this route. Her voice does sound very good on this kind of instrumental, and I actually wouldn’t mind hearing her try out this R&B thing again. This track also has some Kanye West-style auto-tuned vocals in it which give it some texture and spice it up. On ‘Every Rule,’ Charli is singing about the highs and lows of a former relationship. She is reminiscing and recounting a time in her life she mostly looks fondly upon. ‘Yuck’ is another song that has a sound that I would have never expected to hear from Charli. It is another one with an R&B element to it. This one, however, has a Tropical feeling to it. The Synths in this one almost have a Calypso sound to them. I could imagine listening to this one on a beach somewhere with a margarita in hand. The funkiness of this track gives it a Disco flavor as well, which just adds to the fun of the song. The only thing about ‘Yuck’ I don’t enjoy a lot is the fact that it isn’t longer. On ‘Yuck,’ Charli is talking about catching feelings for someone she just wanted to hook up with. This person has a way of pulling her in, and she is trying to unsuccessfully resist it. ‘Used to Know Me’ is the last single from this record; it was released the day before the record came out. This one brings back the late 90s/early 2000s Europop sound that Charli has embraced in the past and on the song ‘Beg For You.’ One of the best things about this song is how funky the Synth-heavy bass line is. It has the kind of groovy nature that makes anyone want to dance when they hear it. The melody for this one reminds me a lot of artists who were popular in the early 2000s like Jewel of Kylie Minogue. ‘Used to Know Me’ is pretty simplistic for a Charli song; it doesn’t have any vocal effects or sound effects that make it stand out. The album ends with the song ‘Twice.’ Similar to ‘Yuck,’ this song has a Tropical Pop feeling to it. Once again, the synths that drive the melody for this song have a Calypso sound. One thing I appreciate about this song is the Bass heavy beat. Even though the tempo for this song has a modern Pop feeling, the Bassline reminds me of EDM. Towards the end of this song, the melody starts to change and become way more distorted. The beat speeds up as well. It gives the song a futuristic Hyper-Pop tone. The end of this song is a lot more similar to what one would expect to hear from Charli than the rest of the record. In ‘Twice,’ Charli is singing about living in the moment. Charli ends the record with a positive reminder to not let life pass you by.
I’m not going to lie, I can see why some Charli XCX super fans were somewhat disappointed by this record. Crash does not take nearly as many risks as a normal Charli record would. Most of her fans are used to her blazing the trail and forging new paths in Pop music, and she does not do that on this record. Instead, she decided to take the sounds every other Popstar has been using lately and making them her own. Instead of going against the wave, she dove right into it headfirst. This approach has made Crash Charlie’s highest-charting album to date in Australia, Britain, and the United States. Even though Charli XCX didn’t shake up the Pop world like she usually does, I still feel like Crash is a very good album. It shows that Charli XCX can do what every other Popstar is doing and make those sounds better than they already were. It is yet another example of why she is one of the top Pop stars today, and further proves that she can do anything she wants regarding the music she creates.