Charli XCX - SUCKER
Jan 7, 2021 (updated Jan 7, 2021)
50
Originally wanting to go into more of a pop-punk direction with her sophomore album, Asylum and Atlantic Records made a near last minute decision to have Charli XCX and her producers rework the record into something more chart friendly after the success of singles “I Love It”, “Fancy”, and “Boom Clap”. The end result is “Sucker”, a serviceable pop album but, especially worth hindsight, is Charli XCX’s least interesting album to date.

I do want to start with some positives, because I think the project it a little overhated by the more pretentious critics. Charli had continued to improve her ear for great pop songwriting on this record, filling the album with catchy melodies and sticky choruses that will be trapped in your head in the best way. I’d even go as far as to say, writing wise, that this is a step above “True Romance”, really showing her capabilities as a hit maker that she would later take as tangle of when writing for herself and other people. I also want to specifically highlight “Boom Clap”, a track that fans and ever Charli at times have wrote off specifically because of how mainstream friendly it was, but I think is actually one of the better mainstream pop songs of the 2010’s - great songwriting, perfectly complimentary production, and catchy as hell.

However, while Charli’s writing has stepped up, I think her label’s interference in attempt to make “Sucker” more successful made the rest of all album drop in quality compared to its predecessor. You can hear elements of Charli’s original pop-punk record in here - a few bratty vocal performances, some distorted guitars here and there - but it’s obvious that it’s way more poppy than originally intended and trying to have more trendy sound, even though I think a lot of the sound palettes used were already outdated by 2014. In fact, a lot of the production here sounds like something out of Radio Disney, with “Break the Rules” and “London Queen” especially sounding like Lemonade Mouth leftovers. You can also tell that Charli is unhappy with the album being reworked because there are a good chunk of vocal performances on here that sound way less invested than how she usually sounds.

Overall, my feelings towards “Sucker” are more positive than many, with some strong songwriting and hidden gems among the tracklisting, plus I think it gave Charli a lot of opportunities, including working with SOPHIE and PC Music, that she wouldn’t have otherwise had. But like I said, “Sucker” is her least interesting record for a reason and barely captures what makes an artist like Charli XCX so captivating in the first place, and I’m just glad this is the last time she had to put out a record like this.

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