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Album Review: Charli XCX – Brat

3 min read

Charli XCX has been making waves in the industry for a long time now, even if to some it has gone unnoticed for the longest time. Her major label debut SUCKER back in 2015 launched her initial pop career, but it was her later involvement with producers such as SOPHIE and A. G. Cook that cemented her status as a game-changed artist and songwriter. Now, just over two years since her last album, she has returned with Brat.

Kicking off with the bouncing and electrifying 360, the album sets the scene for what’s to come in a bold and unapologetic way. Charli drops references to her famous friends, as well as collaborator A. G. Cook, flowing effortlessly over the pounding bass and glitchy synth stabs. Sympathy is a knife is the first taste of a deep cut. It continues the galloping pace of the previous track but with deeper lyrics that dive into Charli’s fears and concerns. It’s one of many on the album to meld club bangers with reflective and at times incredibly personal lyricism. This sentiment carries across to I might say something stupid, a quick and mellow song that digs into Charli’s anxiety at a party as she croons with heavy autotune over a spooky keyboard progression. Talk talk and Everything is romantic take an atmospheric dance aesthetic, the latter being led along by a techno kick drum and Chari practically rapping about what could be a holiday or a wonderful daydream. There is a dream-like quality to the instrumentation, spacey synths and vague samples making up the backdrop. The former is a more formulaic track but it’s instantly infectious and hard not to enjoy. 

Rewind takes a similar structure and sound to the former, while So I strips back the majority of the production to create an airy ballad that builds to a mildly distorted end. Girl, so confusing is a throwback to very early Charli, the fuzzy synth lead, pitched backing vocals, and mid-2000s vocal melody feeling like a trip back to 2015 in the best possible way. Apple and B2b also have elements of this, the former especially feeling incredibly nostalgic. Mean girls begins familiarly, but the piano drop in the middle of the song takes it in a whole different direction and elevates it to becoming one of the album’s later highlight. The final two tracks, I think about it all the time and 365 are polar opposites thematically, Charli going from thinking about what the future holds for her, to being back at the party. It’s a fitting way to end such a melting pot of expression.

Brat comes across as an album purely for the fans, as opposed to her last album Crash. While that one was her attempt at doing every pop star clique possible, this one takes a step back towards the sounds and styles she was broaching, but with much deeper subjects lyrically. Although it may throw some off, it’s an album worth listening to, whether to dance to or cry to.

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