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Charli XCX's Mixtape 'Number 1 Angel' Is A Fantastic Pop Diary

Mar 10, 2017
Originally published on March 10, 2017 2:32 pm

While we patiently await the follow-up to 2014's brash and bubbly pop smash Sucker — "Boom Clap" is still bedazzled on our hearts — Charli XCX has released a mixtape ahead of her as-yet-untitled third album. Over 10 tracks, Number 1 Angel plays out like a pop diary of the London songwriter's past few years, indulging in the margins of slinky R&B, hip-hop and bizzaro electro-pop. But it's also just a really stellar group of songs, tossed out like she hasn't written more pop hits.

The late-night lovers anthem "3 a.m. (Pull Up)" (featuring MØ) has the kind of giant candy-coated hook that's become Charli XCX's calling card, as does the twinkly, aerobics-ready "Babygirl," which features Uffie in her first release since 2011. "Roll With Me" is the mixtape's club banger, the most direct nod to last year's Vroom Vroom, the collaborative EP with pop deviants PC Music (A.G. Cook, SOPHIE, and Danny L Harle co-produced several of the mixtape's tracks). Tracks like "Dreamer (feat. Starrah and RAYE)" and "Drugs" are fascinating outliers, soaked in syrupy trap beats and heavy synths. In the latter, Charli finds a sympathetic collaborator in the Atlanta-based Abra, who makes dark R&B that's as soulful as it forward-thinking.

While Charli XCX says that LP3, which has been "kinda finished for a while," is most akin to "3 a.m. (Pull Up)," she truly rethinks pop music with the mixtape closer "Lipgloss," a hell of an introduction to Chicago rapper cuppcakKe. With thick, chiptune-style production and a rap feature that's fully integrated into the digital bliss, "Lipgloss" bangs on euphoria like a row of cherry cola Lip Smackers.

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