Recommended Tracks: “Constant Repeat” and “Move Me”
Artists You May Like: Rina Sawayama, Kilo Kish, Betty Who
CRASH smashes in with Charli XCX’s iconic staccato sing-speech. The namesake for the album is the perfect song for a Tik-Tok challenge. I don’t think that “Crash” goes too far outside of the box, but I enjoyed it nonetheless; it’s fun and an immediate ear worm. “New Shapes” is such a fantastic follow-up track and with three intense powerhouses it makes sense. The separate sections of the song feature different verses from each artist that take the song to new levels. Chris’ timbre gives the track a grit it didn’t have before and their ad-libs are immaculate, while Caroline breaks down the song on an emotional bridge reminiscent of Pang.
“Constant Repeat” synth intro builds anticipation and once the other instrumentals layer, it hits really well. I loved the pre-chorus melodically and lyrically: “Are you ever thinking ’bout the magic in me? // Do you wish I was yours?” While it’s a “tamer” track from the album in terms of bass and energy, it’s no less catchy – sticky pop is Charli’s brand if nothing else. The bass-heavy funk of “Yuck” is another win for her “sticky pop,” but this song takes it in a different direction. I love the cynical, twisted lyrics and the sound makes it that much better. It’s danceable and head-bobbing fun. I think that the chorus is a bit corny, but it’s still so smooth it doesn’t even bother me.
Maybe it’s just personal overload, but I am so tired of songs about people potentially cheating. I know it happens. You know it happens. There is something so grating about romanticizing it that I can’t stand. “Every Rule” falls flat for me not only because of that, but also because it lacks progression, something that “Used To Know Me” fell victim to, as well. Where those songs felt partially lackluster for their static energy, “Baby” somehow escapes that label. Maybe it’s the plucky rhythm guitar, airy overdubs, or just the synth-y energy of the track, but it works. As Charli said, this is a foundational piece of the album both because it was really the first track that came together and because it gives the essential grimy pop energy felt on each track.
“Good Ones” is a song better appreciated alongside its video. Its lyrics match the foundational motif of this album: Destroying yourself looks more appetizing to other people when it sounds pretty, too. The track itself is not heavy in constructive forays, but the video brings the simplicity (in Charli terms) of it together. Altogether, it’s a beautiful red, white, and black scene dripping with sex appeal – and maybe a little bit of blood from jaded love victims.
I feel like if you have someone as talented and cool as Rina on a track, then there’s already so much potential. Unfortunately, “Beg for You” samples too heavily in my opinion and it doesn’t really go anywhere. I want to like it, I do. However, it’s not as good as I expected and I think the lack of progression contributes to that. Vocally they sound polished, but it’s overshadowed by anticipation that’s never eclipsed. It’s still a good song, it just isn’t as memorable as some of the others – and it definitely could’ve been. “Lightning” is the least cohesive track in my opinion because it felt like it was trying too hard. It had bits of things that people have complimented and lauded Charli for – but smashed together here the “Lightning” is just the cinematic backdrop for Frankenstein’s monster being revealed. It wants to be loved by society, but it’s a bit grotesquely sewn. She does so many things well, but on these two songs they didn’t work for me.
“Move Me” continues with the car wreck analogy even though the song is anything but. It’s so good and it ventures out to sounding different without going too far from the now. It’s got signature moments – the staccato and echo vocals are back and they make sense. Charli’s lower register peaks through a bit and it sounds sultry and raw. She genuinely does a stellar job of encapsulating the regretful attitude of someone who can’t escape the mistakes of their own undoing. For “Twice” I think it’s verse one and two lyrics are great and it shows her personal growth through coping with fear. I was worried that the repetitive choruses were going to overwhelm and discolor the song, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Crash as an album is a solid body of work, and “Twice” is a good ending to the album since it resembles the record’s opening eponymous track. Instead of crashing, I think Charli’s coming full circle on a solid lap.
Ways to listen: CRASH
Charli XCX will be touring the US from late March to the end of April. Her UK/EU tour kicks off in May.