Three years ago, when the pandemic halted everything and the world was on lockdown, Charli XCX birthed how i'm feeling now. To me, it remains as Charli's best album and it's an overall fantastic piece of work. It steered clear of the feature heavy mixtapes and the self-titled album, and instead, focused on the isolation at the time. Before she began to work on the album, she was already working on CRASH - it wasn't called this at the time, but it was this record. From its inception, this project was meant to be an 80s, Janet Jackson circa Control era, album. I'm not quite sure if all the songs on CRASH suit this description, but fucking hell does the title track scream it.
The production is divine. It's no surprise I adore it since it's produced by two of my favourite producers at the moment. One of them is A.G. Cook who is essentially a member of the band at this point, considering the amount of contributions both of them have together. The other is George Daniel, from The 1975, who I need to work on a full album with Charli with. Believe me, the reason I keep listening to The 1975 is for his production which just elevates these songs to a different level. It's no surprise that A.G. Cook and George together work together so well. George has all the experience with 80s pastiche and A.G. Cook knows exactly how to play with Charli's hyperpop. Mesh both and you get this brilliant instrumental.
"CRASH" is an explosive opening track that sets up a clear theme for Charli's first entry into the BPG canon. The song blends two of Charli's classic themes with this 80s sound. The first of the themes is cars, in general. I mean, she's got an EP called Vroom Vroom which practically shifted her entire career, so I'm not surprised it's become a thing. However, there's plenty of other songs which reference cars down to the start of her career with True Romance. The other theme is self-destruction. This has been an early theme too, dealt with as well most recently in "detonate" and even "enemy", both on her previous record.
Overall, "CRASH" was the perfect way to open the album. It sets out the old with the new, while continuing the Classic Charli stuff we love. A hit!
@Jersey, who gave this their 11, comments "This became my mantra for the year. With my newfound love for 80s Janet before the album dropped, this checked every box for me as an ode to Ms. Jackson. The stuttering vocal chops, the guitar licks left & right, the new-jack swing bestowed to the chorus. It’s a formula that I’d like to drink every last sip of. One of the best sugar pop rushes I’ve ever heard. Thank you, Charlotte. xo"
We've talked a lot about the elimination order for Midnights and Crash, but honestly Motomami's elimination order has been puzzling. Saoko and Candy outlasting CUUUUuuuuuuute and the title track is not giving me joy. Bizcochito deserves to be the last Rosalia track standing imo so I'm glad it's still safe...but the way this is going it will be the next eliminated?
When CRASH was being developed, the original quotes that Miss XCX was using to describe the album were that it was a return to True Romance. I don't believe this was the case, bar one song, but there were some indications of this. "Baby" is produced by Justin Raisen, who was instrumental in True Romance's sound. Interestingly, "Baby" was one of the first songs written for CRASH and indeed, it was "foundational" into creating the album's sound and tone, according to Charli. One can see how the Janet Jackson inspiration emerges with this song, with the new jack swing elements from the record.
"Baby" was the fourth single from CRASH. It's not my first choice, but the song does indeed slap, so it's a correct choice. It's a horny sex anthem. There's not much more to it than that. Charli says that this hyper-sexualised tone of the song helped her develop the rest of the album and the overall image of the record. I don't see how it differs from other recent eras from Charli, but I do think this is one of her most sexual songs and I can see what she means with the song helping her wrangle her own female power.
For me, the real highlight of this song is in the outro. It's so simple, but with the production smacking you in your face and Charles just singing "Imma fuck you up" over and over, one can't help but dance and sing-a-long. It always works.
Baby is a great song but doesn’t quite hold up to repeated listens as much as others on the album. Once you know where it’s going it can feel a little anti-climatic. I gave this an 8.25 so it leaving now is pretty spot on.