Charli XCX had one hell of a year, and this is where it all began. Back in March, the promise of the long-awaited, long-overdue third studio album still appeared to be looming near on the horizon, so when she unexpectedly dropped a mixtape seemingly out of nowhere there was an immediate impulse to react, “But just give us the album!!!”.
Number 1 Angel, recorded in LA with A.G. Cook in a couple of weeks, deflated studio album hopes, but the mixtape as a whole seems to be a testament - a very XCX-ian one, to boot - to the sentiment of “who cares?”. Nothing about Charli XCX is orthodox, including her use of the “mixtape” model (it was up for sale from the beginning, and circumventing the album marketplace is the sine qua non of the mixtape, no?), so it seems that use of the form is aimed directly at side-stepping the record label bureaucracy that has kept her “official” studio album in a vault. Whatever the reasoning behind it, it’s a model that is working wonders for her. Few musical experiences from 2017 stand out as boldly as the memory of going onto the website she made specially for the mixtape, seeing the brilliantly gaudy, early 00’s nostalgia website design, and listening to Dreamer for the first time. This was her first release with A.G. Cook on board as her creative director, and it now seems clear that whatever divine force brought Charli in contact with the PC Music crew is becoming the pivotal moment in the development of her pop artistry.
Words: Andrew Ward