“You said you wanna bang? Well, FUCK YOU, SUCKER!”
Those are the first words you hear on Charli XCX‘s new record, Sucker. It is quite appropriate, setting the tone, making sure you don’t dare underestimate her or forget her name. The new wave and post-punk influenced tunes are modernized through her brash and provocative charm. This follow up to 2013’s well-received True Romance has the star putting herself out there for a larger audience. Known for her collaborating with Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea, Sucker gives the singer a chance to give herself an even bigger name.
The album opens strongly. Daring and refreshing, First track Sucker is a sensual electronic statement. Break the Rules, while full of clichés, is driven by its electronic momentum and post-punk inspired riffs. Easily the catchiest number here, London Queen has Charli sounding like Siouxsie Sioux, Cyndi Lauper, and even Toni Basil at times. Fun, and incredibly infectious, yet still engaging and dynamic. The intro is quite similar to Joy Division’s Disorder. Fourth track Breaking Up feels quite repetitive, it isn’t obnoxious, but it modestly follows up the charming first three tracks. Glorifying the millionaire lifestyle, Gold Coins, is a decent pop song. Luscious pop hooks and synths make Boom Clap the most memorable track out of the bunch, for it is also Charli XCX’s most well-known song on her own. It timeless and powerful, with a life of its own – poppy, vulnerable, and sensual. Doing It feels very R&B, which is refreshing, and shows another side of the singer. A song about owning your sexuality and satisfying yourself, Body of My Own is an audacious track that will surely resonate with her independent minded following. A great hook around the chorus has ninth track Famous keeping the record on the right track. With help from Rivers Cuomo, Hanging Out, sounds like Charli’s far more interesting rendition of Beverly Hills, for these both share a similar groove. Vampire Weekend fans will likely recognize Rostam Batmanglij’s presence through his tinging keyboards on the ethereal Die Tonight. The beats and synths here are crystal clear, uplifting the track to carefree, “sing-along anthem” status. Themed with hurt, love triangles, and being the “other woman”, Caught in the Middle is a bittersweet pop ballad. Album closer Need Ur Luv is a lovely surprise for listeners. A sweet modern ode to Motown, this love song wraps up Sucker quite beautifully. Charli’s vocals go from high pitched in the chorus and sultry in the verses, to a delicate whisper falsetto in the bridge.
While boisterous and flamboyant, the record never feels ostentatious. Sucker is a youthful record loaded with attitude that flows effortlessly. A few of these tracks (Gold Coins, Breaking Up) do feel dull amongst all their shimmer and gloss, lacking substance, and making the album slightly stumble halfway through. These are ultimately outshined by the more immediate numbers (Need Ur Luv, London Queen, Boom Clap), but they don’t completely hold back the album. Charli XCX isn’t here to be your role model, she has a clear vision of what she likes and she goes for it. Her appeal isn’t one of mystique, but of a tough image backed by her nostalgic sound. Sucker’s end of year release doesn’t stop it from being one of the most captivating records of the year, one for all kinds of music enthusiasts to experience.