Charli XCX “CRASH (Deluxe)” Album Review

Cian O'Toole, Contributing Writer

On March 18th, English popstar Charli XCX released her fifth studio album, titled CRASH. Buckle up! In all twelve tracks, Charli embodies confidence, self-assured beauty, and “girlboss” energy. The singer-songwriter has mastered the hyperpop genre with tasteful elements of house music and Y2K girl-power, transcending boy problems with catchy beats and assertive lyrics. However, some parts of CRASH lack melodic diversity and are weakened by repetitive lyrics— deterring audiences who are unfamiliar with hyperpop music.

“Crash” and the four additional songs featured in CRASH (Deluxe) depart from XCX’s signature style. In this new project, she tones down the heavy beats and instrumentals, giving room for her voice and experimental production choices to shine. Songs “Lightening” and “Move Me” were instant hits, spread rapidly by Tik-Tok users who enjoyed the mash-up of slow and fast tempos in the two choruses. Another highlight is “Beg for You,” featuring Rina Sawayama. Here, Charli takes a softer approach and channels young lust and love through passionate imagery: “Can I take you to the airport? Make out under the bathroom lights?” In “Yuck” she rejects stereo- typical, societally accepted romance and modesty— themes that echo her past work, like the chart-topper “I Love It.”

Nonetheless, many remaining tracks overuse repetition both lyrically and rhythmically. This repetition may be intentional, aiming to add force behind the powerful message of each song, but it isn’t enjoy- able after the fourth or fifth repetitive beat. My least favorite song on the album is “Crash,” which did just that. “Crash” repeats the phrase “I’m about to crash” 23 times in a monotonous robotic voice. Moreover, this style is further emulated in “Used to Know Me,” “How Can I Not Know What I Need Right Now,” “Yuck,” “Baby,” and the ironically titled track “Constant Repeat.”

[XCX] taps into the bubbly, bright style of queer femininity and has always publicized her support for the LGBTQ+ community

Charli XCX’s music has made its mark in queer spaces. She taps into the bubbly, bright style of queer femininity and has always publicized her support for the LGBTQ+ community. XCX’s iconic dance-hall style encourages listeners to unapologetically embrace their identity and sexuality—a message that resonates with queer listeners who often feel suffocated by a dull world of heteronormative monogamy. Fans often feel trapped at the intersection between oversexualization and stigmatization. Charli XCX is a breath of fresh air in this regard, with her confident, celebratory approach to sex. Some might label CRASH “slutcore”—a term that has recently grown in popularity that categorizes sexual music with upbeat melodies.

All together, a few songs from CRASH have gained deserving recognition in online communities for their catchy beat and confident spirit, but the album’s heavy repetition and questionable instrumentals become obnoxious after a couple songs. With four mixtapes and five studio albums released over the span of 10 years, Charli XCX once again brought short-lived relevance to the hyperpop genre, falling just out of reach for most mainstream listeners.

This piece also appears in our April 2022 print edition.