Pop mastermind Charli XCX's album is stacked with big-name collaborations. It is her third studio album, following a series of mixtapes and singles released in-between her last full-length record, Sucker, in 2014.
Lizzo, Christine and the Queens, Sky Ferreira, Haim, Clairo, and Troye Sivan all make appearances, and the collaborations make for a multi-faceted record.
The singer uses her team of talent to lift the tracks when necessary, adding substance and spark to tight-knit production. The Ferreira feature, Cross Me Out, is the record's best collaboration. The duet between Charli and Sky meshes almost seamlessly, and the vocals on the synth-heavy track almost melt together.
The eagerly awaited follow-up to last year's hit 1999, Charli XCX's collaboration with Troye Sivan, the aptly named 2099, is a dark and moody sequel to its predecessor. The track is a testament to the artist's creative ferocity, which sees her employ experimental production.
However, not every track is created equal. February 2017, featuring up-and-comers Clairo and Yaeji renders itself bizarre upon the first listen. It is a snappy and distorted song, which seems at odds with the other songs on the record – but it is a reminder of the artist's tendency towards the unconventional.
Fortunately, her collaborations don't leave her solo efforts in the dust. Album opener Next Level Charli is a loud and catchy dance anthem, setting the tone and reeling listeners in. The track Thoughts, sandwiched in-between the Haim and Lizzo duets is as attention-grabbing as its accompaniments.
The album is filled with sparkly dance-pop, making for a cohesive and a near-consistent effort. Charli sticks to her purposely eclectic style, delivering a record that would be perfectly polished if not for the artist's tendency to deflect from mainstream pop with her riskier moments.
To box Charli XCX into just the pop genre is limiting, and the album makes for a better listening experience without any predefined expectations.
Artist: Charli XCX
Verdict: Pop music's rebel lives up to her reputation.