A ‘Sucker’ for Charli XCX
What happens when Madonna has a baby with the Ramones and hires the Spice Girls as babysitters? That baby boy is not one the world has the pleasure of encountering — but when that child is a girl, she is indubitably incarnated as Charli XCX.
Flanked by the smash hit “Boom Clap,” Charli XCX’s new album, “Sucker” is full of the glitzy pop one might come to associate with a teenage fashion boutique commercial. Listening to the album leaves one in constant anticipation of the generic, bubbly male voice gushing over the awesome things one can do in a pair of Skechers.
But the Cambridge born Pop tastemaker – she made “Fancy” and Icona Pop’s “I Love It” the smashes they are – is not in the business of selling. Instead, her ironically blunt lyrics have a different purpose as they ride over pop glam beats, full of chiming instrumentals with claps and melodies that could have been ripped from the Madonna-Janet Jackson led girly pop from the time of scrunchie socks and frizzy hair.
Just seven words into her third album, “Sucker,” and six words into the title track we are blasted with a “F” bomb that sets the tone that will not as be as innocent as it sounds.
Five words prior to the expletive, Charlie had already confronted an anonymous suitor wanting to “bang.” Her in-your-face style in the overture starts the 40 minutes of unapologetic, potty-mouthed, adolescent sass that ensues.
Later on in “Breaking Up” she lambastes an ex-boyfriend, targeting his “ugly tattoo and fucking cheap perfume,” also along with the contempt she held for the guy’s family and friends. It’s the perfect song for someone getting over their douchey past. And quite tickling as her bluntness dances with an edgy electric guitar that sounds like rebellion.
On top of being a renegade in terms of convention, she rejects messages that her contemporaries have gotten behind recently, seemingly sticking it to other Pop princesses, who are so concerned with the flashy lifestyle of rockstars and other affluent teens.
On “Gold Coins,” Charli’s love for the material items that spice life up a little are professed. Chic lyrics mention “offshore bank accounts,” “private jets” and of course, “gold coins.” So while the fun associated with typical Pop beats is undeniable with mild mannered vocals, “Sucker” lyrics, much like her words on “I Love It,” match the uptempo, fast-paced angst evoked by synths and rock guitar.
Hearing this over quintessential pop music, stereotyped as things fit for Radio Disney, is quite a breath of fresh air, especially for the adult who still enjoys a “Top 40” tailored tune.
In fact, “Boom Clap” seems to be full of the content most commonly heard on other songs that dominate the “Top 40,” hence its success here and overseas. The Benny Blanco produced “Caught in the Middle” is a close second, which, thanks to its RHCP-esque guitar, mellow bassline and first heartbreak-esque lyrics, is a viable second smash for the album.
Except for these tracks and a few vulnerable pockets on the LP though, “Sucker” was an all-out harangue to all in Charli’s bedazzled crosshairs. Four “explicit” labeled songs on the album separates the brazen Brit from any one being played on radio stations without much question.
RECOMMENDED: Fun, bold, flashy and rebellious — Charli XCX’s “Sucker” breaks convention while remaining entirely danceable and catchy.