Sucker, Charli XCX’s long-awaited second major label studio album, is the perfect summer record coming out in the dead of winter. Asylum Records, Atlantic Records, and Neon Gold Records are releasing her album on December 15th, 2014. To say the past few years for Charli XCX have been nothing short of magical would be a grave understatement. The 22-year-old, self-proclaimed “London Queen” has already written and been featured on huge, international pop songs with both commercial and critical success. “I Love It” has since gone double-platinum and has had tremendous lasting power, as it is still popular in clubs over two years later. Recently teaming up with Iggy Azalea for “Fancy,” Charli XCX has now received two Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Charlottle Emma Aitchison, otherwise known as Charli XCX, has come a long way from releasing her first album at 14, and is at the height of her career, which she seems to be riding with no end in sight.
Sucker is an unrelenting all-girls party that is made for the consumer market at large, but without its vapidity. Charli XCX twists and bends the rules and does so with incredible charisma, charm, and boldness. Sucker goes without a hitch. Every song is unbelievably catchy and wildly fun. It’s the type of all-girls party that every guy secretly wishes he could get an invite to. With that said, Sucker also contains an open and wounded heart that doesn’t shy away from its feelings. It’s an overall incredible pop album that doesn’t hold back its punches.
Opening up the album is the title track, “Sucker,” in which Charli starts with her chorus, “You said you wanna bang / Well, f**k you! Sucker!” As childish as it’s written, Charli makes it clear that she’s a pop star, who isn’t here for men to pursue her; she’s here to live out her punk-pop dreams with her middle finger in your face. The second track and second single off the album, “Break the Rules,” is a raging obvious club hit that builds like an EDM dream, but goes into a horn and trumpet breakdown that will have you unleashing your weirdest and obnoxious dance moves. In fact, it’s kind of brilliant. Charli is ridiculously clever at creating jams that you are familiar with, yet thrown off by. She knows how to work her songs for the masses, but at the same time throwing you a curveball that still sounds exciting and fresh. “London Queen” is more straightforward and contains silly electro keys courtesy of the DIY-prince himself, Ariel Pink.
On “Breaking Up,” Charli once again proves that she can take the classic “breaking up” song and twist its usually negative and depressing mood into something empowering. The chorus is quintessential Charli: “Everything was wrong with you / So breaking up was easy to do / Hated your friends and your family, too / So breaking up was easy to do.” It’s a great, female-embodied anthem that is perfect to get out of the funk of a relationship gone awry, and it’s the exact opposite of how pop artists like Adele, Taylor Swift, and Christina Aguilera have channel their sorrow in the past. Songs like this are exactly what the female pop world need.
“Boom Clap,” “Doing It,” and “Caught in the Middle,” all show the sincere and rawness behind Charli XCX’s bratty, punk attitude. Although Charli is independent and has proven that she can stand on her own, she’s not afraid or scared of love and opening up that side of herself. With some producing help from Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Charli exposes a wounded heart on “Need Ur Luv.” It’s one of the few times we see Charli vulnerable, but her ability to do so shows extreme confidence. The ending chorus reveals Charli XCX in conflict with her self and her emotions. “(I need your love) / I don’t want it / (I need it even when it hurts me) / You really hurt me, baby / (I won’t give up) / Now, I’m giving up / (I won’t give up, so come and get me) / Don’t you come and get me, baby.” The vocals are more akin to Duffy than anything we’ve heard from Charli before, and it contains a 60s love-pop feel. It’s a bizarre and introspective closing track that shows the stark contrast between itself and the title-track opener.
Although there’s not really a weak spot on the album, tracks like “Famous,” “Gold Coins,” and “Body of My Own” garner more of the same feelings as some of her bigger, more stimulating tracks, and they get overshadowed by them. Charli even got Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer, to produce the very-Weezer-inspired track, “Hanging Around,” complete with loud bass and heavy stop-and-go guitar work. “Die Tonight” is a track that could’ve easily been on 2013’s True Romance, as it contains more atmospherical and expansive sounds that some fans may have missed on the bombastic Sucker.
At the end of the day, Sucker is a multi-faceted, complete look at how far Charli XCX has come in such a short amount of time. It’s a pop album filled with heart, bitchiness, confidence, and exposure. Sucker is a bold and motivated catalyst that captures the pure essence of what it’s like for a 22 year old to have such profound and commercial success in a pop world that’s traditionally diluted and uninspired.