Charli XCX Number 1 Angel Asylum
Charli XCX’s 2013 debut album True Romance was a commercial flop that nevertheless won her dedicated fans. Since then the pop star has tried and tested a number of musical avenues, ranging from the peppy-sounding Boom Clap to last year’s more eccentric, SOPHIE-produced Vroom Vroom EP.
Having expressed frustration about her label withholding her next album, Number 1 Angel was released via Twitter as a ‘mixtape’. It features an exciting selection of collaborators, including MØ, Raye, Uffie and Abra. With production from PC Music’s AG Cook, Danny L Harle and SOPHIE, the mixtape holds many of the label’s hallmark sounds – skittering beats, helium vocals and throbbing synths. As a whole, the record embraces the sweet presentations of hedonistic themes embodied in XCX’s previous works (‘we shine when the lights go out/ I wanna kiss you in the nightclub’, she sings in Roll With Me), retaining post-modern irony in its synthetic-sounding production (thank you, SOPHIE), that’s both shallow and addictive.
There is a charm to Charli’s boldness (‘go fuck yourself’, she spits in 3AM (Pull Up)), but it’s sometimes hard to be convinced amidst all the tongue-in-cheek playfulness. But this is a Charli XCX record, and to search for deeper meaning here would be to miss the point somewhat. Rather, Number 1 Angel succeeds in pulling the listener into their saccharine-sweet hooks and quick-changing dynamics. The final track Lipgloss is a particular highlight, closing the record with a wonderfully neon-sounding display of synths, before Chicago rapper CupcakKe boasts, ‘pussy taste sweet cause I ate my pineapple’. Love it or hate it, Number 1 Angel is unashamedly fierce.