There is one way we could just sum up Charli XCX‘s POP 2 mixtape, and that is to say: Charli, baby, what is you doing?
For a start, always a bit odd hearing mixtapes from acts. Are these songs that just aren’t good enough for an album, or just a need for constantly creating output to keep the brand afloat? Either way, two in a year from Charli XCX is a bit odd. And where Number 1 Angel recalled her brilliance, POP 2 reminds us once again that no good can come from hanging out with the PC Music stable.
Not even a star-studded cast can save a lot of the songs from being, well, annoying. Backseat – featuring one Carly Rae Jepsen – takes the most mundane parts of both acts (galloping synths for Carly, vocoded cadence from Charli) and treads water as if it doesn’t even want to be noticed. And it’s hard to forgive the amorphous mess of personality in Out Of My Head, where both Alma and Tove Lo are tranquilised to a point of being unrecognisable.
Honestly, we could go on. Caroline Polachek breezes in without notice on Tears and bores us to exactly that as both artists flail amid the clogged production. The less said about Unlock It and Delicious the better, as Charli XCX herself seems convinced by her own automaton character so much that it drains the life out of everything else.
If there’s any respite it’s from CupcakKe‘s turn in I Got It, but whatever its intention POP 2 doesn’t register as a success. Not just for the squandering of the talent involved, but for showing a side of Charli XCX that already seems outdated compared to her own work even just this year. There’s nothing as forward-thinking as Boys, no anthems, just an assembly-line of robotic pop that’ll be forgotten in a week. If POP 2 is the future, we’d rather be stuck in the past.