Eschewing the chance to release an LP, 2017's pop sensation Charli XCX
has instead dropped another mixtape today, entitled Pop 2
and literally STACKED with incredible features.
In a way, it feels appropriate for an artist who has been known as a behind-the-scenes machine, writing, co-writing and making track appearances with artists across the board in the music industry. While we're still eagerly awaiting a third full-length, it just feels right for her to have the chance to stretch her creativity, and produce collaborations that we normally wouldn't have the chance to see. Honestly, I'll just come right out and say it, I don't think anyone in 2018 should release an album by themself. Just look at what we got this year, Drake's More Life
, the Quality Control
mix, and now this. 2018 should be the year of mixtapes, and I'm looking at you J. Cole, no one cares that you went platinum without any features.
Anyways, back to the point. Pop 2
is an eclectic monster mash of sounds that really allows Charli XCX to flirt with dozens of unique sounds while adding her own signature touch. Especially cool is the casting of a primarily fem and LGBT+ cast for features, including heavy hitters such as Mykki Blanco
, Tove Lo
, Kim Petras, Caroline Polachek, and of course, Carly Rae Jepsen
Speaking of CRJ, Pop 2
opens with her collab with Charli on "Backseat", which really sets the tone for the rest of the mixtape. While pulling from a wide-range of influences, Pop 2
does have a cohesive sound, one that straddles dark and electric avant-pop and as my editor astutely pointed out, all the makings of a breakup album. "Backseat" jumps right into this with a moody, roiling bass, and dramatic synth work. Naturally, hearing Carly Rae Jepsen and Charli XCX playing call and response with each other is simply fantastic, and calls to mind perhaps a melancholic take on The Naked and Famous' "Young Blood". It's collabs like this that make me stress the importance of mixtapes and features moving forward. As talented as the two are on their own, they only make each other better together.
The rest of the tape follows in a similar vein, here and there adding elements unique to each featured artist, preventing you from pigeonholing it into one specific sound. There's tons of glitch and trip-hop elements to be found, especially in tracks like "I Got It" and "Femmebot". If you keep your ears peeled, and know what you're listening for, there's even some witch house vocal elements in "Tears" with Caroline Polachek. Never thought I'd end up typing that.
If Pop 2
feels like a breakup mixtape, it might be owed to Charli XCX's desire to push the boundaries, and not rest on her musical laurels. In an interview
, she admitted that she's glad the influence of EDM is fading in pop music, and is looking to explore beyond what first brought her notoriety. In Pop 2
, it sounds like that breakup is going well.
Watch our concert with Charli XCX at Hype Machine's Hype Hotel: