Charli XCX is not at all what you could call "boring." The reason why she's established herself as one of the UK's best current pop stars rests on how she constantly innovates her sound while being completely true to herself; staying in her lane but also pushing the limits. Unfortunately, that's a rare trait in UK pop right now, but it's one we see out in full force on her newest offering, mixtape Number 1 Angel, released on Friday 10 March.
With a whole bunch of featured artists (all of whom are women: Uffie, ABRA, CupcakKe, Raye and Starrah) and PC Music weirdos AG Cook and Danny L Harle partly taking on production, Number 1 Angel is Charli XCX at her best – all coquettish lyrics and Tumblr teen imagery, backed up by pop songwriting on levels that most acts would die for.
It's interesting to remember, however, that the tape was originally imagined as a free release, but it has now found its way online via traditional streaming channels like Spotify and Apple Music. Charli's struggle to get control over how her music is released because of the fine print of her record deal is a familiar one for a lot of artists: think of Frank Ocean's Def Jam finesse (releasing Endless to satisfy his deal with them so that he could release Blonde, ostensibly the 'real' album on his own) , or M.I.A.'s very public confrontation with her label Interscope back in 2013 over her album Matangi being constantly delayed. It seems that if they're going to outwit the majors to stay in charge of their own music, artists are going to have to get creative. Though she might not have managed it this time, we hope a free Charli XCX release might not be too far in the future.
Listen to Number 1 Angel below:
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(Image via Charli XCX on Instagram)