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Charli XCX releases mixtape masterpiece

Written by Andrew Fox

“Number 1 Angel” takes listeners on a joy-ride through Charli’s most colorful and adventurous compilation to date. With the help of up and coming producers A.G. Cook, SOPHIE, LifeSim, and EasyFX, she’s delivered a compelling collection of pop records, each bursting with personality.

“I’m a dreamer, step, step out the Beemer,” Charli flexes her ego on “Dreamer,” an electronic hip-hop track with featured artists Starrah and Raye.

“Went to go get it, go get it. I’ve got it,” she proclaims while a mystifying cavernous sound echoes melodies.

A deep powerful bass affirms Charli’s assertion, “’bout to do it big.”

Cook’s assortment of wide-open, bouncy, and haunting synthesizers whizz by your ear, as if calling out from another world. The song never ceases to feel as wondrous and dream-like as its title suggests.

With “3AM (Pull Up)” featuring MØ, Charli ventures into dancehall, a style of music that’s recently garnered popularity through Rihanna’s “Work” and Sia’s “Cheap Thrills.”

What it lacks in lyrical depth, “3AM” makes up for with Charli’s relentlessly catchy hooks, EasyFX’s crystal clear production and delightful marimba-like synthesizer. MØ’s emotionally charged verses feel right at home.

With its unshakable beat, “3AM” has the most potential for commercial success, but that isn’t the purpose of the mixtape. “Number 1 Angel” is largely an experiment between albums, showcasing all Charli’s talents, from explicit bubble-gum pop to melancholy ballads. She throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, and most of it does.

“Every lie you tell comes true, but I still wanna be with you,” Charli admits on “Blame It On You.”

Like a ride up to the peak of a rollercoaster, “Blame It On You” spends most of its time teasing what’s to come, before sending you plummeting down and speeding around corners in its final act.

“Bad boy make a bad girl, bad boy make a bad girl,” a heavily auto-tuned Charli chants while blaring synthesizers escalate into madness, finally exploding into chorus when Charli shifts the blame, “I blame it on you.”

It’s a hit-or-miss, but unlike anything she’s ever done before.

After working with Charli on her experimental Vroom Vroom EP, London artist SOPHIE is back to deliver his unique brand of polarizing pop weirdness on “Roll With Me.”

The song features a plucking synthesizer that gets increasingly aggressive as it thumps along to each syllable of Charli’s questioning, “Do you wanna roll with me?”

Charli gets her answer in an ominous breakdown where high-pitched vocals sing “yeah-y yeah-y yeah.”

“Emotional” and “White Roses” are two ballads included on the mixtape, the latter being the more successful of the two.

While “Emotional” falls flat sounding like a Katy Perry reject, “White Roses,” a spiritual successor to “True Romance’s” “Black Roses,” is the most beautiful and lyrically sound song on the mixtape.

Cook’s effective use of reverb once again creates a feeling of wide-open endless space as Charli fantasizes about her crush.

She pleads, “Love is like a rose, baby let it grow.”

“ILY2” is a girl power anthem straight out of her 2014 LP “Sucker,” while “Baby Girl,” a funky-fun venture into 80’s retro, marks the return of the elusive Myspace queen Uffie.

“Drugs” is another shoutout to Charli’s moody “True Romance” persona, but feels unfinished.

“Number 1 Angel” ends with “Lipgloss,” the freakish electronic lovechild of Cook, SOPHIE, LifeSim, Charli and Cupcakke, a wildly explicit, yet charming rap girl.

“Mmm-hmm, I keep it sticky-icky like lipgloss,” Charli sings in the chorus, “Yeah you know I’m sugary sweet, baby boy gon’ rot your teeth.”

It’s an acid trip through a combo of EDM and hip-hop dripping with personality.

Cupcakke’s verses border on filthy, yet you can’t help but crack a smile as she swiftly delivers line after hilarious line, “Yeah, we keep more eyes on us than the show iCarly.”

“Number 1 Angel” proves once again that Charli cannot be pinned down. This free mixtape dives to her deepest creative depths, and offers a glimpse into the future of pop music.—Andrew Fox/The Telescope

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  • a&e telescope logo: Telescope Staff/The Telescope | All Rights Reserved
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