Album Review: Charli XCX – Pop 2

discusses Charlie XCX’s pop revolution

Charli XCX has come a long way from being the best thing about Iggy Azalea’s disaster of a career. The past year has seen the fall of many mainstays of pop music; Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and even to an extent Ed Sheeran, have received a substantial backlash. This form of pop star is no longer capturing audiences’ attentions like it used to. They’re all still incredibly successful and dominate much of the charts, but there has been a noticeable shift to a new model of pop star. Artists like Charli XCX as well as Lorde and Dua Lipa are offering an alternative model of the pop star that has ruled the charts over the last couple of years.

Pop music has become more respectable as a genre of experimentation and progression as opposed to the ‘paint by numbers’ genre of music. The experimentation on the album is hit and miss, but trying and failing is a pleasing change to a genre that often
resists such experimentation. Stand-outs are ‘Out of my Head’ and ‘Backseat’. The former is the most recognisable as a Charli XCX and the latter is a synth-driven, slower paced jam combining both the strengths of Charli XCX and the song’s collaborater Carly Rae Jepsen.

Collaboration is the greatest strength of Pop 2: Charli XCX remains happy to not be in the spotlight of every song, making the album feel like a pop supergroup as opposed to a solo venture. Collaborating with some other stars of alternative and experimental pop music including American rapper CupcakKe, the Swedish singer Tove Lo and the Danish MØ. In a pop scene littered with manufactured feuds, an album of collaboration is something to be celebrated. It does lack the slickness that we have become used to in pop recordings but I’d rather have messy high-octane dance-pop than the slick but bland music that litters the pop charts. Finishing the album is the fantastically bizarre ‘Track 10’ where Charli XCX’s voice is layered to create an EDM gospel choir where voice and electronic sounds become
indistinguishable.

It’s more than anything a hopeful look, less into the future of Charli XCX herself, but rather into the future of pop music. It simply sounds fresh and new, combining aspects of EDM, bubblegum pop and modern hip-hop.

It’s a mess, sure, but for once I feel like this is pop music made by a human as opposed to a focus group in the form of a supermodel. Pop that is fun and cheesy can be unique and inventive, and Charli XCX is leading the way in a new wave of pop music.

Rating: 8/10

 

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