Crash by Charlie XCX | Album Review
Reviewing the artist party pop fifth album
Crash by Charlie XCX ranges from dancingly beautiful to infuriatingly annoying as some of the highest potential tracks are marred by repetitive choruses and dystopian-like persistence for upbeat tempo and party atmosphere despite its inadequacy. This album feels straight out of an old Need for Speed game with the nostalgic capturing of an older form of pop that was so prevalent about 10 years ago. It certainly has its ups and downs but there is just enough potential and heart-racing thematics akin to a car crash that makes this album worth listening to.
Most of my issues with this album is the inconsistency within the tracks. The album as a whole moves at a breakneck speed but looking within specific songs, the quality suffers when we can hear the authentic vocals of one part of a song essentially erased when it is inevitably pushed through filters creating the most generic pop songs. The opening song, “Crash”, has a repetitive and almost annoying chorus but is juxtaposed by more authentic verses that sound like a real person, capable of explaining the emotional crash the album traverses through. Where some songs suffer as a whole, others stand out as they more proudly step away from the hyperpop fodder and more into the realm of classic pop music.
The second song, “New Shapes”, sounds like it comes from a completely different album. It still takes advantage of the expected high, electronic synths and a repetitive chorus — but it benefits from the slight slowing of pace. Delivery isn’t rushed, vocals are mastered rather than blurred through filters and creates the first true hit of the album. If there were more songs like this, we could’ve be looking at an album that makes a case for top 5 album of 2022.
While not entirely cohesive, the attention to and reverence of an older form of pop music is admirable. The nostalgia isn’t too far removed as Charlie XCX was practically the face of this older form of pop in the early 2010’s. The Charlie XCX of “Boom Clap” pops up here and there throughout the album and I can’t help but feel reminiscent. As noted by her previous album though, the change of style is still occurring as she adjusts to a more modern version of pop that borderlines R&B and touches along the hip-hop genre. Additionally, this was the last album under her current contract with Atlantic Records. Perhaps she could’ve been simply fulfilling contractual agreements.
This album is good, don’t get me wrong. I think it just misses the mark of greatness when we look at the totality of the artists catalogue. The highs of the album are contrasted by the emptiness of some sections. Thereby, consistency is lacking and just barely. The chorus of some songs are perfect and followed by weak verses and vice versa. See the chorus for “Move Me”, insanely addicting, but that practically makes the entire song. The songs that don’t suffer from this fate are “New Shapes”, “Constant Repeat”, and “Used to Know Me” which uses a classic sample from Robin S, “Show Me Love”.
Crash is an addicting and exhilarating listen guaranteed to increase your heart rate. But some songs will leave you with a cocked head in wondering how it fits in with others. This is what docks the album quite a bit in my opinion. I want to enjoy this album more, but it just doesn’t check all the boxes.
Favorite Tracks: New Shapes, Constant Repeat, Move Me