It’s easy to think of Charli XCX’s new mixtape as a stopgap between last year’s single ‘After The Afterparty’ and her upcoming album, which is due for release in September. That would be to do a disservice to ‘Number 1 Angel’, though.
“It’s just songs that me and AG Cook made in two weeks in LA when I was, like, feeling really depressed,” the singer told NME last month. But there’s nothing maudlin about this new collection of tracks – it’s ten cuts of skewed electronic pop that don’t give you any other option than to feel ready to party.
Like last year’s ‘Vroom Vroom’ EP, ‘Number 1 Angel’ bears a lot of PC Music’s hallmarks. It’s no surprise really – the 26-year-old is head of the label as well as being Charli’s creative director. ‘Roll With Me’ bounces on skittering beats, her “yeah-ee, yeah-ee, yeah” refrain pitched up, warped and cut and paste throughout the track. The synth bed of ‘Lipgloss’, meanwhile, grinds through serrated, sweet melodies. Like much of the mixtape, it takes pop foundations and gives them an edgy, offbeat facelift.
Strip away those electronic experiments and you’re left with perfectly crafted pop. ‘3AM (Pull Up)’, which features Major Lazer collaborator MØ, is one of the record’s most infectious cuts, while the likes of ‘Emotional’ and the loved-up ‘ILY2’ pack gigantic hooks. This is basically Charli straddling her boundary-pushing tendencies and her innate ability to write pop bangers like those found on 2015 album ‘Sucker’.
‘Number 1 Angel’ is also rife with Charli’s no-bullshit attitude (“go fuck yourself” she spits on ‘3AM (Pull Up)’), but it’s also hugely fun. That’s most evident on oral sex anthem ‘Lipgloss’, it’s chorus finding her calling “Mm-hmm, I keep it sticky-icky like lipgloss” like a playground rhyme, while delightfully filthy Chicago rapper CupcakKe boasts: “Pussy taste sweet cos I ate my pineapple”.
Once again, Charli’s trying to push things forward while sounding like she’s having the time of her life. Who wouldn’t want to get on board with that?