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by Charli XCX

Released March 18, 2022 via Asylum Records / Atlantic Records

Reviewed March 28, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Lightning (44%), Crash (31%), New Shapes (29%)

On CRASH, Charli XCX largely diverts from the glitchier aspects of her sound and adopts a more traditional pop sound. It’s a style that’s significantly more straightforward than Charli’s previous works, as she draws inspiration from some of pop’s biggest names—most notably, Janet Jackson. The production on CRASH is incredibly bouncy and entrancing, striking a nice balance between tradition and the futuristic sounds that Charli is known for. The hooks are simplistic but tight—occasionally repetitive, but rarely at the expense of catchiness (see: “Baby”). Themes of love almost exclusively drive the songwriting and there isn’t much beyond the surface, but any lack of depth is largely counteracted by a combination of theatrics and charisma from one of modern pop’s biggest stars. While Charli XCX’s shift in sound may diminish the staying power for some of these tracks—especially for fans of her more experimental work—CRASH has some premiere moments of carefree dance-pop bliss. – Dominick (7.7/10)

Since the Number 1 Angel (2017) mixtape, Charli XCX has been on an upward experimental trajectory of glitchy, maximalist pop—becoming one of the faces of this recent and innovative PC Music wave. In 2020, Charli set herself the task of creating an album in just a few weeks to stay sane in COVID-quarantine, and in turn managed to transform the raving beats of what she had established into something intimate, indie almost, in how i’m feeling now. CRASH is supposed to be the polar opposite of this—cosplaying lavish, expensive mainstream success without necessarily parodying it, as per PC Music’s standard means of critique. However, didn’t she already do this a year before how i’m feeling now with her self-titled record? This makes enjoying the move toward convention, and away from Charli’s more groundbreaking material, a little less riveting. CRASH has another clear-cut concept too; it feels like an end to an era of experimentation with pop, which started with her first EP (you could say the car from Vroom Vroom has, maybe, CRASHed). Here, Charli reflects upon pop thus far by drawing influences from numerous movements over the past few decades. ‘80s synth, noughties two-step, and early 2010s EDM, as well as some tinges of late ‘10s hyperpop (the bridge on the gorgeous, strum-sampling “Lightning”) pop up here and there. I wasn’t big on the singles—though “New Shapes” does sound a lot better in the context of the album—but the deeper cuts shine brighter. “Move Me” aids in maintaining the pace of the album with its calmer beats and Tove Lo vocal rhythms, while “Yuck” is sassy, punchy power pop. Hardly her worst, but at the same time, this album left nowhere near as large an impact as other releases over the last five years had. There's nothing wrong with 'doing the opposite of novelty' as long as it has a strong intent, and CRASH definitely has that. – Cam (7/10)

CRASH shows Charli XCX shifting toward the mainstream sonically to differing results. The production is consistently gummy and pretty, but it lacks a lot of the gratification from her previous release. As can be said for the writing where before it was dynamic and free flowing and now it’s pretty one note across the board. While there is a lot to like on the surface, the deeper you go in the more you’ll see the cracks in the album. – Jared (6/10)

Alan: 8.2/10 | Pax: 8/10 | Dominick: 7.7/10 | Cam: 7/10

DeVán: 7/10 | Hadley: 7/10 | Ben (Synth): 6/10 | Jared: 6/10


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