If Number 1 Angel showed that Charli XCX is leagues ahead of her pop peers, Pop 2, released just weeks before the year’s end, shows her skating circles around the competition. The only bad thing about the mixtape is the release date. It’s a very Charli XCX sort of move to casually deliver one of the greatest pop albums in years just as everyone is submitting their best-of lists, like she already knows she’s the best and doesn’t need you to tell her. While the gesture is admirable, the mixtape deserves far more attention than the music press industry is willing to give to a project that just sneaks in with little ceremony shortly before the ball drops.
On Pop 2 everything seems to have come into focus with the XCX mixtape model. Executive produced by A.G. Cook and featuring production from a stellar cohort of PC Music affiliates, it sounds like pop music transmitted from the future. Since, at this point, Charli has long established herself as one of the best contemporary pop songwriters--and she’s paired with PC Music, a group responsible for rewriting the genetic makeup of contemporary pop--what’s almost the most exciting aspect of the project is her ability to assemble an insane team of guest features and use them in a way that makes everyone sound at the very top of their game. Just looking at the track I Got It alone, the lineup consists of Brooke Candy, Cupcakke, and Pabllo Vittar, a Brazilian drag queen and pop star who sings in Portuguese. Who else but Charli XCX is able to craft such pop ecstasies from such an eclectic array of features? She shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, so here’s to another year dominated by the new Queen.
Words: Andrew Ward