By Cole Parker
The evolution of British popstar Charli XCX has been a rapid one. She started as a budding electro pop prodigy with a sound reminiscent of a Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds) who gave less fucks. Her first breakthrough into the mainstream zeitgeist was her feature and songwriting credit on Icona Pop’s devil-may-care party anthem “I Love It” which provided the blueprint for her next step, into an artist with huge mainstream potential. She capitalized on it with a rebel-minded, pseudo-cheerleader style that brought a punk-adjacent tinge to the charts.
Last year, she morphed again, this time into party trash pop princess Charli XCX. Her 2016 EP, Vroom Vroom, was an amalgamation of debauchery, bravado and the bubblegum bass of up-and-coming PC Music producers Sophie and A. G. Cook.
Her new mixtape, Number 1 Angel, is an iteration on Vroom Vroom‘s sound. A.G. Cook is at the helm of the album’s production and it keeps that EP’s slightly off-kilter vibe that somehow make the melodies even catchier.
The mixtape is in some ways a safer retread of Vroom Vroom, though. Tracks “ILY2” and “Roll With Me,” steal the hook and deep, rumbling bass from EP cut “Secret (Shh),” respectively. Nothing feels as ambitious, but the features make it work. Starrah and Raye open the mixtape expertly with hazy “Dreamer,” MØ shifts the narrative of “3AM (Pull Up),” and Uffie’s brief, brash verse on “Babygirl” competes with the hyperlane-to-heaven beat change on “Blame It On You” for the release’s best moment.
Number 1 Angel, despite being more than twice the runtime of Vroom Vroom, feels like it has less ideas. Ultimately though. Charli’s swagger, the strength of the features and the manic craziness of the production are enough to make the mixtape a solid addition to Charli’s diverse catalogue of saccharine pop.Charli XCX, Independent, Number 1 Angel