Charli XCX Brat Review – Vulnerable Pop

Charli XCX Brat Review – Vulnerable Pop

Charli XCX’s latest album, “Brat,” is a bold dive into the world of vulnerable pop, showcasing her ability to blend raw emotion with pulsating dance beats. The album, released on June 7, 2024, marks a significant departure from her previous work, “Crash,” which leaned heavily into synthpop nostalgia. “Brat” is a return to Charli’s club roots, filled with grimy synths, driving drum-machine beats, and repetitive hooks that are best experienced in a chaotic, smoke-filled club environment.

The album’s production is a standout feature, with electronic music visionary A.G. Cook playing a significant role. His influence is evident in the intricate details that make each track unique, from the cutesy piano melody in “Mean Girls” to the distinctive synth choices in “Rewind.” These touches bring the album closer to Charli’s avant-garde comfort zone, characterized by its PC Music-inspired, pioneering sound.

Despite its energetic beats, “Brat” is Charli’s most vulnerable album to date. The lyrics delve deep into her insecurities, exploring themes of generational trauma, body image issues, and the pressures of commercial success. Charli’s introspective lyrics offer a raw, unfiltered look into her psyche, making the album feel like a self-character dissection. She questions her place in the music industry, her relationships with other pop stars, and her own self-worth, all while delivering these heavy themes over bombastic dance beats.

Tracks like “360” and “Von Dutch” showcase Charli’s attempts to reaffirm her greatness, but they also reveal her underlying insecurities. The album isn’t entirely somber, though. Moments of hope and joy filter through the darker themes, as seen in “Everything is Romantic,” where Charli lists small joys in life, and “I Think About It All the Time,” where she reflects on the beauty of new life and friendship.

“Brat” is a hedonistic, ultraviolet collection of songs that capture a feeling of chaos. The thumping club beats and disorienting bass lines create an atmosphere reminiscent of an illegal London rave, where Charli began her career. The album’s sound is a tight collection of minimalistic yet bold elements, drawing comparisons to ’00s-era Ministry of Sound compilations and Rihanna’s 2010 album “Loud.”

Charli’s relationship with her listeners shifts throughout the album. At times, she’s the confident pop star demanding admiration, while at other moments, she’s the vulnerable friend sharing her deepest fears. This dynamic creates a strobe effect, making it difficult to pin down Charli’s true self, despite her honesty.

The album’s penultimate track, “I Think About It All the Time,” sees Charli contemplating the simplicity and beauty of life outside the music industry. This introspection leads into the final track, “365,” a defiant, high-energy anthem that brings the album full circle. By the end of “Brat,” Charli is ready to embrace the chaos of the club once more, shining at its center.

“Brat” is Charli XCX’s sixth studio album and her first after renewing her contract with Atlantic Records. The album was announced on February 28, 2024, and was preceded by the release of two singles, “Von Dutch” and “360.” The album’s aggressive and confrontational sound is balanced by its vulnerability, making it a unique addition to Charli’s discography.

The album’s cover art, a low-resolution lime green square with the title disproportionately imposed on it, sparked criticism. Charli addressed this in an interview, explaining that the choice was meant to provoke and challenge expectations of pop culture. She wanted to question why certain things are considered good or bad and to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in the music industry.

“Brat” is a testament to Charli XCX’s ability to evolve and push the boundaries of pop music. It’s an album that captures the chaos and vulnerability of modern life, all while delivering infectious dance beats that are sure to keep listeners coming back for more.

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