By Josh Schonfeld
Fresh off her breakout hit, “Boom Clap,” and a feature on Iggy Azalea’s #1 song, “Fancy,” Charli XCX is set to release her latest studio album to cement her status as a reigning pop princess. Heavily influenced by 90s Euro pop, Sucker’s blaring synths and popping drum machine conjure up a glimpse back to 1995. This album sets to prove that she is more than just a hook girl for her friends. Not only does she have a songwriting credit on each and every track, the album also has no features, a rarity in the pop genre these days.
The album begins with the jarring title track reminiscent of Republica’s “Ready to Go” from 1996. “Sucker” pairs screeching vocals with a heavy electric guitar line to create a chaotic atmosphere of rebellion and anger. Unfortunately for Charli, the track leaves the listener dizzy and confused as she yells “f**k you!” over and over.
“Boom Clap,” which peaked at #6 based off exposure from The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack, is the clear standout on the album. Filled with melodramatic similes and metaphors, the track is a powerful love song for any generation. The onomatopoeia on “boom” and “clap” sends shivers down the listener’s spine as the infectious beat pummels them to submission (in a good way).
Charli XCX battles the same issues many 21-year olds face: be a mature young adult or a rebellious brat. Unfortunately for her, Sucker suffers due to this inner struggle. The album switches off between her two personalities, leaving the listener confused as to whether they should give her a Grammy or throw her in detention. “Sucker,” “Break the Rules,” and “Breaking Up” all fall under this category, with their brash call to rebel against authority and sticking the middle finger to the sky that leaves a bad taste in the listener’s mouth, while “Doing It,” “Body of My Own,” and “Caught in the Middle” all showcase her blossoming into an independent young woman.
“London Queen” and “Famous” seem to be the best marriage of Charli’s mature songwriting and frenetic instrumentals. “London Queen” utilizes a quick-beat progression similar to “Ça plane pour moi” by Plastic Bertrand, which would be perfect for a montage of Charli XCX exploring America for the first time. “Famous” speaks to the desire for fame most young people have. The stuttering guitar line and Gwen Stefani-like vocals gives the track a No Doubt feel. The track reaches a climax when she yells, “C’mon, let’s lose control!” at the crowd, giving the illusion that a Charli XCX concert is really going on.
Because of Charli XCX’s excellent songwriting skills, the album is saved from being too scatterbrained, as even the low points have redeeming qualities. Her expert ear and knowledge of the music that has come before her will help extend her career past other former pop tarts that petered out at this stage of the game, with names such as Carly Rae Jepsen and Cher Lloyd now extinct. Overall, Sucker provides a distinct voice for the British singer, which is essential in creating a career that lasts more than the typical 15 minutes.