Charli XCX blends dance tracks and 80s pop in her exuberant, ever-inventive fifth studio album.
According to Charli XCX herself, her fifth album was to be her ‘Janet’ album. Inspired by Janet Jackson, Madonna and other pop legends, it was to draw from both the 80s and current pop trends for a different sound than previous more alternative records. So, is Crash the ‘poptastic’ album we were promised?
Well, it is and it isn’t. Whilst Crash has its 80s pop moments, Charli is still a hyperpop girl at heart, and makes frequent forays into dance. This is far from a complaint, however. Charli’s ‘Janet’ record still lives up to its namesake in that Charli herself continues to experiment with what a pop album should do.
In its promotional period, Crash had some strong single outings. ‘Good Ones’ is a smart, clean dance track that shows off Charli’s affinity for creative production and sharp lyrics, never sacrificing one for the other. ‘New Shapes’ with Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek takes this formula and elevates it, with lyrics lamenting an unsustainable love over an ecstatic 80s synthpop track. The most recent single from the album, ‘New Rules’, is the closest that Charli comes to a ballad. Here she tries her hand at confessional pop, utilising simpler production and conversational lyrics.
Throughout the album, Charli avoids repetition, preferring not to stay on the path of strictly pop but to veer over into other genres as she goes, incorporating the best of them. From the bubblegum-pop coyness of ‘Yuck’ to the trance-inspired chorus of ‘Constant Repeat’, Charli refuses to be predictable. ‘Move Me’ in particular demonstrates this, a dance track with a surprisingly gentle chorus and a production that refuses at any point to do what we expect it to.
Crash represents, in some ways, an ending. It’s the last album in her record deal, something that Charli has leant into, combining images of car crashes and funerals with an exaggerated popstar persona, all of which feels a little tongue-in-cheek. Whilst a chapter may be closing, it doesn’t feel as if Charli is going anywhere. What Crash tells us is that whatever her next move may be, we won’t predict it.
Find tickets for Charli XCX’s upcoming UK tour.