Boom, clap — Charli XCX is back

The U.K. singer breaks hearts with an electronic work of art.


(Artwork for “2099” / Atlantic Records)

Going from being featured to featuring, Charli recently dropped her new album “Charli” reinventing the way we think of electro and dance-pop. Charli XCX is making a comeback with some of the biggest up-and-coming artists in the game; this comes after years of writing for other artists including Icona Pop, Iggy Azalea and Selena Gomez. Using new techno sounds and playing with her mixing done by A.G. Cook, Charli has mastered the art of electronic pop in one album.

“Next Level Charli” sets a new tone for Charli’s music with lines like “I go hard, I go fast, and I never look back / I go speeding on the highway / Burn rubber, no crash.” There’s a feeling of recklessness and fun that makes you want to dance, making it a recurring theme throughout the album.

One of the most familiar songs on the album is the second single, “1999,” which Charli released with Australian singer Troye Sivan in the latter half of 2018. “1999” is reminiscent of simpler days using lines like “Never under pressure / Those days, it was so much better / Feeling cool in my youth, relaxing / No money no problem, it was easy back then.” This is one of the only songs on the album that disregards the themes of love and heartbreak in place of pop culture nostalgia. Her tone here brings on a sense of comfort when thinking of a more careless time. 

However, happiness doesn’t last for long as “White Mercedes” reminds listeners what it’s like to lose a loved one. Charli uses lines like “But the best damn part of me was always you / I take all of these blue and yellow pills / But nothing seems to last like you.” 

Charli continues on with “February 2017” featuring  Clairo and Yaeji. Charli combines a fun techno beat and apologetic lyrics, “Sorry I broke you down, sorry I tore your heart / I ripped it all apart, your headlights in the dark,” to create an upbeat heartbreak record. Listeners can hear and feel the deeper emotions that lie within the lyrics.

However, Charli closes the album on a rather futuristic note with “2099,”  the sequel to “1999.” Using techno sounds that made me shudder, “2099” brings us into Charli’s future. Lines like, “I pull up, roll up, f*** up / Don’t make decisions for me, you don’t know nothing,” really encapsulate where Charli is heading and what’s next for her music.  This song feels like what the album has been leading up to as if taking notes from every other song on the album to truly become “Next Level Charli.” 

Overall, this album slaps. Hard.

Charli’s use of tone to bring listeners on an emotional rollercoaster is impeccable. The album is well-paced and finds a way to blend heartbreaking lyrics with dance-pop. You are truly dancing to the sound of her heart falling apart. 

This is one of the more honest records that Charli has released in recent years. The way she speaks about drug use to numb out the pain of heartbreak is somehow relatable. While drugs may not be everyone’s poison, we all know what it feels like to want to just numb the pain away. 

Having not been a fan of her previous work, it took me by surprise how much I love this album. Granted I tend to skip over songs like “Warm” and “Click” for songs like “February 2017” and “2099.” Something about this album gives off bad b**** energy as if Charli disregards the opinions of others and creates what she wants to create, making the project an electronic work of art.

Email Nasya at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @lilbbynas.

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