Release Date: Dec 15, 2017
Record label: Atlantic
Maybe some people look at Sophia, the world’s first robotic citizen, and feel optimistic about the endless horizon of potential, both technological and human; I look at Sophia and feel an unsettling sadness. There is something profoundly tragic in her existence, a sense of uncanny anti-natalism that triggers a strange empathy for those who also did not ask to be born. Sophia has sharp cheekbones and golden eyes, molded in the likeness of Audrey Hepburn.
There’s a certain territoriality and arrogance in Charli naming her mixtape Pop 2, but much of her music is spent negotiating the line between admirable confidence and aggressive hauteur. Charli spent roughly half of Sucker explaining that she was too good for you — even if she’ll mete out second and third chances for the sake of comfort and familiarity — while elsewhere flaunting her superhuman tolerance to narcotics and a vast wealth that puts Croesus to shame. And so on Pop 2, we see more of the cocksureness Charli exhibits in spades, as on the escapist-affirmative “Out of My Head” (ft.
Before Charli XCX could make the deranged, dissociated pop eruptions she’s manufactured over the past two years, she had to play more or less within the template. Her first and only two proper albums, 2013’s True Romance and 2014’s Sucker, are packed with the kind of songs you’d expect from the singer who landed the assist on Iggy Azalea’s runaway hit “Fancy”. But even then, a darkness ringed Charli’s bubblegum hooks.
The musical career of London born Charli XCX is twisted and inverted to the point where an implosion feels imminent. She finds herself on a pedestal, surrounded partially by her poptimistic original fan base, and partially by her chums from the PC Music label. Founder of said label, A.G Cook, whom she references on 'I Got it', handles most of the material on POP 2, and the songs here, texturally are PC Music.
2017 was a disappointment for poptimists on multiple fronts. But on her second mixtape of the year, Charli XCX, aka Charlotte Aitchison, redeems the genre's newfound critical appreciation while continuing to flout her peers' more populist ambitions. In what's becoming something of an annual tradition, Aitchison made one of the year's best singles — in this case the effervescent "Boys" — then didn't bother including it on her subsequent record. It's fitting, though; "Boys" captured the pop moment, while Pop 2 points a way forward ….