Charli XCX: Brat (Atlantic) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  

Charli XCX

Brat

Atlantic

Jun 07, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


On her sixth studio album, Charli XCX succeeds 2022’s phenomenal, if misinterpreted, Crash with a triumphant return to her boldly experimental roots. A highly personal, consistently intriguing nostalgia trip, Brat finds the enigmatic avant-pop icon retracing her origins as a child of the illegal London rave scene, from which she emerged as an up-and-coming performer in the 2000s. Accordingly, the album is steeped in that decade’s now-mythical aesthetic, its intricately turbulent beats, hyper-polished production, and confrontational lyrical declarations reflecting the Myspace era’s signature air of underground decadence.

Per usual, Charli and her collaborators develop each track with a rich sense of atmosphere, transporting listeners to a specific time and place, beckoning them down labyrinthine hallways to a past just recent enough to recall in detail but distant enough to mythologize. Opening cut “360” serves as Brat’s mission statement, with Charli declaring herself “666 with a princess streak.” Continuing in this vein, throwback rave anthem “Club Classics” and retroclash headtrip “Von Dutch” find Charli at the top of her game, maintaining her status as one of pop’s most significant experimentalists, while intoxicatingly sleek standouts “Sympathy is a Knife” and “Girl, So Confusing” address a conflict with an anonymous contemporary. Elsewhere, the dreamy “Talk Talk” and infectious “Apple” serve as somewhat more accessible entries, with Charli once again exploring the same shock of inspiration that surely gave way to 2014’s immortal “Boom Clap.”

To listeners of a certain age, however, the melancholic sense of anxiety beneath Brat’s slyly deceptive veneer will quickly reveal itself. Indeed, consistent with the period’s signature scenes of millennial bacchanalia, the album’s bombast is underscored with a distinct existential desperation, evidenced in its most vulnerable moments. “And I don’t know if I belong here anymore,” Charli confesses on the fragmented yet haunting “I Might Say Something Stupid,” summing up her generation’s seemingly innate sense of alienation. Elsewhere, the achingly tragic “So I,” an affecting eulogy to late Scottish musician and producer Sophie, reminds the listener that Charli has always burned most brightly on her ballads, her longings and regrets sung with chilly remove, serving to accentuate the senses of loss and heartache to which she remains ever partial. Ultimately, it is perhaps the heavily introspective “I Think About It All the Time” that finds Charli at her most confessional, as she ponders the prospect of motherhood, the reality of success, and the inevitably ephemeral nature of it all. These tracks, beyond all others, highlight Brat’s artistic and emotional brilliance.

Brat is yet another crucial step in Charli XCX’s continued development as one of her generation’s most inimitable musical artists and is likely to satisfy fans of both Crash’s mainstream pop sensibilities and Charli’s earlier experimental output. On Brat, Charli’s preferred themes of celebrity, growth, obsession, and creative liberation are poignant and relevant as ever, articulated here with a biting wit and innovative vision. Immerse yourself in the otherworldly nostalgia of Charli XCX’s newest project and bask in the glow of her ever promising artistic career. (www.charlixcx.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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