If you want to get a sense of where ‘the kids’ are today, then one spin of Charli XCX’s latest record will put you right in their midst.
Despite a fame that’s seen her write, guest, and sing on some serious pop records over the last few years, Charli still retains a sense of tumblr-cool teenagerdom that many stars (both bigger and smaller) would kill for.
Where her singles deliberately go for epic pop hooks, Charli’s albums have always had that raw intimacy and sharp lyrics that belie her age. They function as a flipside of that chart hitmaker, a kind of diary, and as such anyone seeking a hit here might be disappointed – though there is of course no shortage of cult earworms on Number 1 Angel: “Emotional” is a wrenching examination of a breakup; “3AM (Pull Up)” (with MØ) is a pure festival floorfiller; while “Babygirl” (with Uffie) could be straight out of the Stranger Things soundtrack.
Less kind reviewers might call them b-sides to her banging singles roster, but that would be entirely missing the point. By balancing these two sides of the way that music works in 2017, Charli shows she knows exactly how to handle her career – which probably explains why she’s now three albums deep. She’s a prolific songwriter, and always manages to tap into an essential truth – she goes deeper and puts more of herself out there than most artists would ever dare to, which is exactly what makes ‘the kids’ love her so much.