Charli XCX - Pop 2
Mar 13, 2019
94
Pop 2 is the future I want to live in. Charli XCX expertly crafted a pop record that transports you to her chrome fantasies. What I love so much about this album is how Charli utilizes technology that we often consider dehumanizing to amplify the humanness of pop music. By embracing digital sounds, Charli and her group of features create a collective vision of pop's potential: a gleaming mess of pure fantasy that closes the gap between who we are and who we want to be.

Every track on Pop 2 continually transforms toward greater emotional heights. The opening song 'Backseat,' which proves God is gay and she's listening, features Carly Rae Jepsen and Charli escaping emotional turmoil through music in the car. As the song progresses, the distinction between Charli and Carly begins to fade. The song builds into this crashing, mutating synth line that tunnels into your soul. Everything becomes a single mass of emotion hurtling towards escape. This feeling becomes par for the course on the album, each song growing and growing into total, cohesive chaos.

Charli's secret weapon is her use of autotune to assist in performing inhuman melodic lines. I have always loved autotune since Cher's 'Believe' first hit the radio. I remember people being horrified at the dehumanizing quality of autotune, but I liked how it sounded with electronic music. Kanye's 808 and Heartbreaks then utilized autotune to accentuate the oddities of his singing voice, making for an extremely compelling album. Charli takes this one step further and uses autotune to perform superhuman feats. The last minute of 'Lucky,' has Charli doing things a human voice just shouldn't be able to do. Yet, it makes the song feel so much more personal because she is able to hit whatever note she wants. Nothing holds Charli back; she is unafraid to utilize technology to perfect her vision.

There is a moment at the end of the song, 'Tears,' where Charli completely outdoes herself. Caroline Polachek is in the background shrieking while Charli continues to repeat the lyrics of the chorus. Behind them is a synth that sounds like the level completion sound in a Sonic game. When combined, they create a moment of unrestrained emotions. It is neither happy nor sad, just emotional. Pop 2 is filled with similar moments of undirected emotional explosions. Charli may have crafted the song, but you have to charge it with your personal sentiments.

Charli has continued to push out fantastic bangers in a similar vein, but nothing has reached the majesty of Pop 2. This project makes me excited for the future of music in general. It sounds messy, open, and most importantly, fun. Charli ends the record on the incredible 'Track 10.' This song feels less like a conclusion to an idea and more like an invitation into her future. Her fantasy is intoxicating, and I can't get enough of it.
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