Music Reviews

”Charli With The Brakes On” – Album Review: Charli XCX – ‘Crash’

Tim Ovenden

Charli XCX’s new album ‘Crash’ is out. Will it be a smash hit or a car crash of epic proportions? Tim Ovenden is in the passenger seat so he really hopes it’s the former.  

I’ll admit, I didn’t exactly go into this album buzzing with optimism: a fair few of the slew of singles had me worried for the direction of the project. On Spotify, Charli posted stories giving insight on some of the tracks, a feature I’ve never seen used before. Seeing her so proud of Crash’s songs makes me feel even eviler for the review I’m about to give. Alas.

Since it’s a relatively short album, I thought why not review it track by track.

Crash: The title track immediately set me at ease, a brief, hardcore banger of an opener akin to the hype of Next Level Charli from her masterpiece ‘Charli’. She drips in her typical sexy swagger throughout.

New Shapes: I think I may have overplayed this song for myself, so it feels jarring to me playing it as part of the album, although that’s no fault of its own. It’s a solid tune, and Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek really help to keep it interesting without it feeling over-cluttered.

Good Ones: The breakout hit from the album isn’t for me, but I found myself enjoying it slightly more in an album of ups and downs. I still find the hook too generic and uninteresting, and we know Charli’s better than this. Skip.

Constant Repeat: An unfortunate title, as this song is not catchy enough for heavy rotation, nor is it so bad that I can mock the title. It’s just kind of there, filler if you will. Charli even attests this, saying it was the last song she rustled up for the album, after already thinking she was finished. Skip (unless you don’t have Spotify premium, then probably save your skips).

Beg For You: Wasting Rina Sawayama on a factory-made radio hit is honestly unforgivable. The first collaboration between two Queens championing the future of pop being so backward and boring? Yeah, no, skip.

Questionable vocal alterations and production do nothing to take away my enjoyment of this track

Move Me: Catchy bop. See I’m not all mean.

Baby: Can’t really fault it and I do want to like it, but something about the sound here just grates me. Skip.

Lightning: As Charli herself states, this a throwback to her electropop debut ‘True Romance.’ Questionable vocal alterations and production do nothing to take away my enjoyment of this track. If you told me DistantCry had a producer co-credit on Lightning, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Listen to his ‘Worst Beat Ever Created [Number 25]’ to hear something truly so bad it’s good.

Every Rule: Surprisingly simple production for a collaboration of electronic production pioneers A.G Cook and Oneohtrix Point Never. It’s a gorgeous ballad nonetheless, with an emotionally raw performance from Charli. Best song on the album for me.

Yuck: Would not sound out of place on her studio-interfered album ‘Sucker.’ Yet nearly every song on ‘Crash’ calls back to pre-Vroom Vroom EP era Charli (i.e her less interesting work) and of all the throwbackies, I think this one is the catchiest.

Used To Know Me: Most radio-ready, mainstream beat on the album. Turn on Capital.FM or Radio 1 and the first song you hear will be indistinguishable from Used To Know Me. Absolute skip.

Twice: This closer is about the end of the world. So why Charli thought it would be a good idea to pair that subject matter with a bouncy Donkey-Kong-Country-type-beat, I’ll never know. I can imagine Lil Dicky featuring on Twice, which is probably about the most damning statement you could say about a track. Should be a bold finisher, but it just peters out with the album.


After a fairly positive first impression of this album, it was only a few listens before I was irritated by most of the tracks. ‘Crash’ has a few successful ear-worms, but there are too many duds and tame spots to call it more than average. Just a shame to see Charli’s production and style de-evolving for the sake of popularity.

Tim Ovenden

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. No changes made to this image. Permission to use granted to Impact.

In-article images courtesy of @charli_xcx and @agcoook404 via No changes made to these images.

In-article video courtesy of DistantCry via

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