Album Review: Chloe Moriondo – Suckerpunch

Moriondo delivers an excellent collection of imaginative, hook-driven hyperpop

Suckerpunch isn’t so much a tribute to 00s and early 2010s pop as it is a Frankenstein’s monster of pop starlets from the last two decades. Chloe Moriondo is wearing “the boots with the fur” in opening track ‘Popstar’.

Britney and Christina get direct shoutouts, whilst ‘Celebrity’, one of the album’s highlights, sounds like if Katy Perry made Gaga’s The Fame.‘DRESS UP’ borrows the immortal line “Come on Barbie, let’s go party” from Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’, set here to whispery vocals in a minor key. In ‘Trophy’, she threatens to key someone’s car, adding as a spoken afterthought: “I’ll take the wheels too, bonehead. Where are you gonna go with no wheels?” It’s dialogue that, had it appeared in a 00s teen movie, would have been far from out of place.

Fruity - chloe moriondo (official music video)

Moriondo isn’t borrowing just because she’s a Christina Aguilera fan. With the help of a few well-placed sound effects, butter-wouldn’t-melt vocals and a generous dollop of autotune, she transforms well-trod ground into an occasionally hilarious, always brilliant collection of hyperpop, sprinkling sugar on top of pop clichés until they become satirically saccharine-sweet. Even in its nostalgia, Suckerpunch never fails to be exciting, unexpected and wholly new.

Moriondo introduces herself in ‘Popstar’ as the ultimate Gen-Z celebrity, the girl you see on your screen that you’d die to be. The electropop track is littered with playful sonic elements, like the frantic clicking of cameras – just one of many instances on the album where a lyric is accompanied by a very literal sound effect. “If you wanna love me, better know it’s not free/Big celebrity, baby, I’m a popstar,” she sings.

Hell Hounds - chloe moriondo (official music video)

Throughout the first half of the record Moriondo radiates confidence. ‘Fruity’ follows, an early 2010s-esque summer anthem that sees Moriondo rattling through high-energy lines of fruit-themed lyrics with fantastically little substance. ‘Fruity’ is concerned only with being frothy and fun and achieves both in spades. As the record continues, we learn more about Moriondo the popstar – she’s a ‘Trophy’, she’ll “knock you out” (‘Knockout’), and she doesn’t take any backtalk (‘Hellhounds’). In short, she’s the best thing since sliced bread.

By the time we reach ‘DRESS UP’, a doll-inspired track that owes as much to Melanie Martinez as it does to Aqua, the front is slipping. Moriondo describes a move to LA and a high-flying life lived on autopilot as she builds and curates her popstar image. The Frankenstein pop starlet is spiralling behind the wheel. ‘Celebrity’ heightens the tension, with references to overwhelming crowds and ‘bleeding out’ on a screen.

Cdbaby♡ - chloe moriondo (official audio)

We might expect the story to end in a glamorous car crash – instead, Moriondo slips gently into what feels like her authentic voice. She tells someone in soft, anxious vocals that “all you do is play me lately” on ‘Cdbaby<3’ and takes a hit to her self-esteem in ‘Diet Heartbreak’. “I think that I deserve better,” she says in the emotional spoken segment that opens the track.

The shift from the glamour of ‘Popstar’ to the teenage heartbreak of closer ‘Cry’ (in which Moriondo’s bedroom-pop beginnings threaten to show through) is arresting. Suckerpunch manages to be both persona-driven and authentic; both a concept album and a vulnerable, autobiographical body of work.

Suckerpunch is out everywhere this Friday 7 October. Find tickets for Moriondo’s February 2023 tour here.