The sound of a beating heart, a flatline, and an instantly rousing handclap hook. “You said you wanna bang?/ Well… Fuck you – sucker!” Welcome to the next stage of Charli XCX‘s evolution, in which pop becomes absolute putty in her hands.
To be fair, that confidence isn’t completely unfounded – it has, after all, been quite the year to be Charli XCX. A monster feature on Fancy, one of the year’s most rip-roaring singles in the form of Boom Clap, and a sound that’s reinventing grungy punk-pop in a way we didn’t even think we wanted. Yet here we are, losing our shit to pretty much every track on Sucker.
For a start, True Romance this ain’t. Whatever darkness plagued Charli on that first album seems to have been exorcised here. Much as that opening title track declares, this is the gigantic middle-finger of youth to haters from every corner – lovers, rule-makers and, as the lady herself has taken to Twitter to say, anyone accusing her of selling out.
It’s hard to agree with anyone implying that anyway. Sucker is fiery (Breaking Up), rebellious (Break The Rules), and so fresh-to-death youthful on songs like Doing It that you’d think she’s the first person to fully understand what it means to be young. It’s also proof that teen-aimed pop doesn’t need to be patronising or sanitised, and that this girl is the go-to for stadium-sized choruses for the near future.
“I never thought I’d be living in the USA / Doing things the American way,” she sings on London Queen. In a way, that’s a pretty much accurate summation of Sucker. After that debut, we can’t say this is a direction we expected from Charli XCX. But this is British sensibility meeting a very US-rooted sound and, while we’re missing her moody brilliance from So Far Away and You (Ha Ha Ha), there’s absolutely no doubt that this girl is the most exciting thing in pop right now. Suck on that, haters.