By: Ethan Hofer, Staff Writer
[Asylum Records UK/Warner Music UK Limited; 2022]
Key Tracks: “Crash,” “Lightning,” “Twice”
After rising to popularity after 2014’s hit single “Boom Clap” from the Fault in Our Stars soundtrack and “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX has maintained a huge amount of mainstream success since. CRASH serves as the fifth studio album in her discography as she continues to progress sonically and experiment in different subgenres of pop. Charli XCX’s last two albums Charli and how i’m feeling now saw a significant push for experimental pop music, incorporating many elements of high energy synths, which gave a mix of diversity throughout the albums. Charli XCX branches away from previous albums and gives the listener that is more accessible this time around on CRASH.
The albums opens with the self-titled track “Crash,” filled with glittery chords and lyrics that match the pace of the song as she talks about going so fast that she is going to crash her car. That is the crazy adrenaline that fills the vocal energy of Charli on this track. “Crash” gives us all of the energy, yet follows up with “New Shapes” that simply does not deliver. It is almost as if it was a push for mainstream appeal or a song for some cliche teenage movie. However, this song is not representative of the rest of the album, as there is much creativity to be found on the following tracks.
Midway through the album on songs such as “Lightning,” Charli expresses moments of heartbreak through figurative comparisons between broken hearts and lightning in a hook that is somewhat melancholy, yet catchy. “Baby” gives off the same 80s-esque vibe that brings up the mood a bit more, and sort of reminiscent of the attempts that The Weekend tried on Dawn FM; however, Charli’s execution seems more polished and just better in general.
CRASH ends with “Twice,” a track that is laid back both in its production and lyrics, as Charli sings about living life with bliss and being in the moment. Much like some of the other tracks on this project, it is simply happy, energetic, and carefree.
Charli XCX music naturally has the feel good, summertime, windows down in the car sort of feeling to her music, while trying to catch a certain nostalgic vibe on CRASH. On this project, Charli continues to establish herself as a pop icon and diversify her sound even further. While this album was sonically great, it is disappointing that half the album was singles that were released beforehand. CRASH also sounded less daring than previous albums like how i’m feeling now, which challenged mainstream pop norms with its combinations of electronic music and hard-hitting synths. Despite those kind of tired songs on CRASH, Charli delivers on yet another album, giving listeners one that was quite enjoyable.