Review: Charli XCX CRASHES charts with new album

Jackson Parks

charli xcx crash
Charli XCX poses on the cover of her fifth studio album “CRASH.” Photo from Atlantic Records

Twitter’s favorite British pop star Charli XCX has returned with her fifth studio album “CRASH.” In true XCX-fashion, the album leaked on Twitter weeks prior, but its official release date was March 18.

Leaks aside, “CRASH” is Charli XCX’s first number one album, hitting the mark in Australia and the United Kingdom, where most of her fanbase is.

Charlotte Aitchison aka Charli XCX takes a step away from her hyper-pop roots and wheel house and into a full 1980s-inspired and Janet Jackson-esque era. Aitchison’s attempt at an 80s album and moment (something which is very overdone these days) totally pays off and is done in her own style. It’s almost an attempt at dance-pop, in Aitchison’s perfectly twisted way though.

“CRASH” is filled with synth, great collaborations, random plucky notes on tracks like “Lightning,” and of course its fair share of hyper-pop flair — something that the pop singer made popular and mainstream. 

Just by the stunning but macabre cover art alone, the visuals for “CRASH” are some of her best. The fake blood, grainy and overlit photoshoots, VHS-style footage of convertibles speeding down a California highway: it’s just all so fitting. 

The glamourized gore of this XCX album seems to have its meaning, reflecting on Aitchison’s ongoing battle and feud with her record label, Atlantic Records. “CRASH” is the last album of Aitchison’s five album contract, which she signed when she was just 14 years old.

There’s so many standout tracks on “CRASH.”

The lead single “Good Ones” is the perfect kickoff to the album and era. 

“I always let the good ones go,” XCX sings on the chorus to the track. It’s so fitting as a reflection of the release of this song and album. She let the good ones (her songs) go by releasing such a great album.

Another standout of the album is “Constant Repeat,” a repetitive and overly poppy track which XCX reflects on the end of a past relationship. The intense synth and over repetition of the song highlight the production of the album. Frequent producers of XCX like A.G. Cook and George Daniel showcase her to her best, yet diversify “CRASH” to her prior albums and mixtapes.

Yuck” is a fun pop track that cringes at the suffocation of a relationship with a loud chorus, which encompasses the back half of the album perfectly. 

“CRASH” is so great in the way that it’s different from anything that Aitchison has released before. It’s not as stereotypical or commercial-sounding as her 2014 album “Sucker” or as hyper-pop-ccentric quarantine album “How I’m Feeling Now.” It’s unique not just in her own discography but in the way it jumbles dance and hyper-pop with artistic influence from those like Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue.

It’s not just an embrace of vintage and modern pop but also of what Aitchison does best. It feels almost as if “CRASH’s” predecessors were just a build-up to its release, with her fifth studio album being her strongest. It’s strong in not just its cohesion, production or that the album can quite literally be on “constant repeat,” but strong in its embracement of all things XCX does best.

Charli XCX’s “CRASH” is available to stream now.

Jackson Parks – Editor-in-Chief

This will be Jackson Parks’ second year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year. He served as Junior Editor his first year on staff.

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