Album Review: ‘Number 1 Angel’
Charli XCX

ASYLUM RECORDS

ASYLUM RECORDS

★★★☆☆

Listeners might recognize her as the featured artist on a number of pop tracks that once dominated the charts. She sang on “I Love It” by Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” and wrote several other hits attributed to the artists who recorded them. Using the momentum from her successful radio hit “Boom Clap” from 2014, The British singer-songwriter’s bold release proves she is back and determined to navigate the pop charts all on her own.

Released under Asylum Records, the mixtape should keep fans satisfied as they eagerly await the singer’s third studio album, set to drop later this year. Similar to Charli XCX’s last release, the style on “Number 1 Angel” is characterized as electronic music made radio-ready by catchy, melodic hooks. Although many of its ten tracks succumb to the trend of pop music being frustratingly repetitive, “Number 1 Angel” nevertheless keeps Charli XCX’s sound relevant and her future music something worth waiting for.

Similar to many of the later tracks, the opening song on the mixtape features two guest artists. Starrah and Raye join XCX on “Dreamer,” which begins with a gradual build-up of electronic ambiance culminating with the drop of a deep, resonating bass. The track ultimately takes form with its repetitive chorus enriched by the underlying electronic sound. This opener sets the theme for the rest of the mixtape; the electronic tracks are monotonous at times, yet destined for the dance floor.

On the verses of “3AM (Pull Up) (feat. MØ),” the simple construction of vocals over muted electronic notes highlights Charli XCX’s raw voice. No longer buried beneath heavy layers of synthesizers, her vocals are intimate and natural, without disrupting the high energy. The transition to MØ’s section of the song is impressively seamless. Though MØ has a roughness to her voice absent from XCX’s clearer tone, the two singers’ voices blend harmoniously. This coherence evidences a purposeful musical vision for the track.

The third song, “Blame It On You,” replaces the upbeat vitality of the previous track with a slower and more intense energy. That said, the song features unoriginal lyrics on the choruses ending in either “you” or “true,” creating dull rhyming patterns. The bridge similarly consists of one phrase repeated twelve times – “bad boy make a bad girl.” The syncopated rhythm of this section, however, compensates for the lyrical monotony by creating a pulsating beat perfect for the club. Continuing the trend of repeated empty words, “Roll with Me” feels like an extension of the last track. Though redundant, the brightness of the verses separates “Roll with Me” from the slow, heaviness of others.

“Emotional” offers a breath of fresh air, with substantial lyrical composition and a passionately charged poetic message. Coupled with a slower tempo, this song allows Charli XCX’s natural voice and personality to peek through a curtain of electronics. The haunting melody, stripped of any overwhelming artificial effects, creates a moment of calm respite. Although the track might not find its way to a dance floor like many of the others, “Emotional” reveals XCX’s ability to change things up and produce something outside of her typical style.

The final track, “Lipgloss (feat. CupcakKe),” was one of the songs released earlier last week as a preview to the mixtape. The initial verse stays true to the title of the track with Charli XCX singing that she keeps it “sticky icky like lipgloss.” Even though already unapologetically sexual, the song takes its explicit message even further with CupcakKe’s rap verse that follows. Cutting off XCX’s final line in an abrupt transition, the female rapper jumps right into the first verse, dripping in edgy and sensual language. Although incredibly different from the rest of the mixtape with its powerful rap verse, the track retains bright dance vibes with XCX’s vocals on the electronic choruses.

Although thematically repetitive with a general lack of melodic or lyrical variation, “Number 1 Angel” ultimately delivers club-ready tunes that keep the beat effortlessly bumping. This mixtape solidifies Charli XCX’s niche within the electronic pocket on the pop charts and can be considered her promise to deliver more explosive electronic hits on the album to follow. In the end, “Number 1 Angel” gives listeners a tantalizing taste of what is to come in the world of electronic pop music.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>