Not a favorite of critics but a favorite of music lovers in general, Charli XCX and her most recent EP Vroom Vroom took listeners on a fun ride of loud metallic synths and somewhat scary house bass. The title track “Vroom Vroom” presented Charli in a new light, veering away from fun colorful pop with bite, to more moody and sleek R&B. It has been nearly a year since Charli had released any new sort of collection of songs, aside from “After the Afterparty” her collaboration with fellow millennial darling Lil Yachty.
Charli made an announcement on Instagram Live (which I had the privilege of catching) that she was going to be dropping new music very soon. I really didn’t expect it to be as soon as the next month.
Number 1 Angel is a great pop record that seems to fit in to the sonic aesthetic Charli has created for herself; plenty of fun loud tunes, intense and noisy beats, and wonderfully angsty lyrics about love and partying. A more bright auditory experience than the former Vroom Vroom, but a darker experience lyrically. Charli explained to the Fader that her next project was going to be more about “crying into the champagne than drinking it” and listening to songs like “3 AM (Pull Up),” “Blame It On You” and “Emotional” we hear her speak about toxic relationships in a rather indulgent sense, laying it all out on the floor to cry but then overpowering those emotions with fast and exciting instrumentals.
The production value on Number 1 Angel compared to Vroom Vroom is pretty similar, with plenty of layering and looping, but its also a bit more mature.That being said, Vroom Vroom was a great piece of avant-pop and produced such bangers as “Trophy.” The lyrics on Number 1 Angel and the instruments go together a lot more than on her previous EP.
Introduction track “Dreamer” is an all around fantastic pop song, along with a lot of her other work, it sounds very futuristic. Charli brought on a lot of guest appearances on this album such as CupcakKe and ABRA, and on the aforementioned “Dreamer” she featured Starrah and Raye. The track is a fun slower paced tune but is packed heavy with bass and again talks about the fun car obsessed lifestyle we have grown to love about her. Moving on to the next song (which is one of the best songs on the album) “3 AM (Pull Up),” we are taken out of the mindset of luxurious cars and an almost hypnotizing instrumental to a shimmering and vivacious outpouring of heartbreak. It is very avant-garde but I could see this being her most radio friendly song on the mixtape. It’s catchy, it has extremely relatable lyrics people can belt out in their cars, and it has a nice verse from MØ.
Another great track is “ILY2”: the song starts off soft and slowly in the style of “Boom Clap” but her lyricism in this production is much more profound and empowering, again very much in line with the theme of crying into champagne. The chorus bares words that actually made me do a double take, it was something that I could relate to but never even thought of.
“I don’t talk a lot, talk a lot
So you should listen up, I mean it when I say
I’m not afraid, it’s okay”
The other standout track is “White Roses”. A slowed down track teeming with themes of futuristic sex love sounds. A clap and distant tinny clinks create a cold feeling but the lyrics juxtapose this with romantic and intimate invitations.
A fantastic effort from the new expert of avant-pop. Not her best work (“Vroom Vroom”) but still very very good.