Charli XCX


BY Ian GormelyPublished Dec 12, 2014

After penning and guesting on hits for Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea, "Boom Clap" finally gave Charlotte Aitchison the hit she needed to elevate her career from cult phenom to major star. Then, bafflingly, her record label delayed Sucker's release by several months, dropping track after track as if to ensure fans would know half the album by the time of its release.

Regardless, Sucker delivers on the promise of those collaborations and 2013's underrated True Romance. That album paired Aitchison's sardonic lyrics with understated production, but in crafting its followup, she reportedly recorded her version of a punk record while in Sweden, paring her songs down to short bursts of fury. The spirit of those sessions remains on tracks like "Break the Rules" and the album-opening title track, with its blunt "Fuck you, sucker," chorus. More than anything, Sucker feels like a brick in the small of pop music's back.

The record's biggest misfire is frontloading those songs. Its back half balances out the spittle, but many of its tracks feel slight after the front half's blunt trauma. There are still gems buried in there, though: an "I Want Candy"-esque riff carries "Famous," and "Hanging Around," co-written with Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, captures the laconic stomp of "Beverly Hills" without the lazy lyricism.

True Romance's nuance is missed here, but there's no denying that the Charli XCX of Sucker is a far more magnetic character, one who's as vulnerable as she is determined to have things her own way. More than a dozen collaborators — including Ariel Pink, Ariel Rechtshaid and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij — helped realize these 14 tracks, but their voices never overshadow Aitchison, who is finally given the spotlight she's rightfully earned.

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