Take a look at the videos for Charli XCX’s recent singles. There’s a common theme: from the Clueless-inspired Fancy with Iggy Azalea, to the after school fun of Break The Rules, the high school jock-destruction of Breaking Up, and even Boom Clap soundtracking the biggest teen movie of recent years The Fault In Our Stars. Even the video for new single Doing It with Rita Ora has all the vibrancy of a high school Thelma and Louise.
‘Sucker’ is the sound of teen drama and Charli (real name Charlotte Aitchison) is the coolest chick in school. And with the release of this second album, she’s the coolest chick in pop.
“You said you wanna bang, well fuck you sucker” she spits at the very start of the album. From there she chants an anthem to rebellious youth (Break The Rules), plays the foreign student (London Queen), breaks up with her loser boyfriend (Breaking Up), and dreams of a rockstar lifestyle (Gold Coins). And that’s just in the first five tracks. Later she belittles her partner’s sexual prowess on Body Of My Own and revels in her outrageous behaviour on Famous. It’s not all attitude though: Boom Clap is an ode to the rush of teenage love, whilst on Caught In The Middle she laments the difficulties of a secret relationship. Regina George is so basic by comparison.
Mostly, this is the sound of rebellion and that stems from Aitchison’s embracing of pop-punk. The album is full of the shouty choruses and punk attitude that have become a staple of her music ever since the success of I Love It with Icona Pop. Drums boom and clap, guitars thrum and jangle, and the vocals are less sung and more chanted with a reckless smile. She is youth personified, rebelling against the glut of EDM with a foot firmly in the past. There’s even a nod to Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll in the punchy chords of Hanging Around.
Fans of her older material may miss the gothic electro of the criminally underrated ‘True Romance’ (I for one am a sucker for a synth), but this is an altogether more refined and consistent record. And that’s not to say ‘Sucker’ is devoid of electronic modernism; in fact, tracks like Boom Clap, Doing It and Die Tonight are amongst the album’s best.
If ‘Sucker’ proves anything though, it’s that Aitchison sure as hell knows her way around a pop song. Each track hovers around the three minute mark, doesn’t outstay its welcome and is crammed to bursting point with hooks. “BOOM BOOM BOOM CLAP” is just one example of a song that grabs you within seconds and refuses to let go. For all her punk aesthetics and flirtations with edginess, Aitchison is a popstar through and through. Avril Lavigne wishes she had this rockstar attitude; Sky Ferriera couldn’t hope to write hooks like these. Charli XCX is the undisputed prom queen, though you get the impression she wouldn’t be seen dead there. She’s far too cool for that.
* Boom Clap
* Doing It
* Caught In The Middle
Listen: ‘Sucker’ is released on 16th February.