Why A Charli XCX Album Doesn’t Have To Be On The Cards

“Don’t get caught up by the term album”, Charli XCX retorts to a ‘fan’ demanding more from the already hyper-productive pop star.

That Tweet came in the response to MusicWeek’s article announcing Ed Howard’s promotion to managing director of Asylum Records UK. The article went on to talk about “plans for a new album from Charli XCX”.

Many XCX fans took to social media to voice their excitement at the supposed announcement. However, Miss XCX seemed not to be aware of this mysterious album she is supposedly working on, replying: “ummmmm lol what?????”.

Not all fans were happy with having their hopes dashed, demanding that XCX followed through on the promise someone else had made on her behalf. However, avoiding the classic album and tour cycle (that is fast becoming dated) is exactly part of what makes Charli XCX just so exciting, as CelebMix elaborated on this summer.

One fan wrote, “Girl we’re f***ing tired next month it’s gonna be 4 years since sucker was released give us green lights and say something’s coming even if it isn’t”. XCX was quick to bring the facts, rattling off her own releases since March 2017, not even counting the countless tracks she’s featured on (that would make a total of 34) and added, “Don’t get caught up by the term ‘album’ […] I labelled them [the mixtapes] differently to allow for creative freedom”.

XCX couldn’t be more right. What makes her stand out from anyone else in pop music is that she makes the music when she is inspired to do, with the people she wants to make it with. Holding a middle finger up to that album cycle process is fundamental in allowing her to change the course of pop music as she is today. XCX’s tracks don’t have to follow an order, have standout tracks to feature as singles or add lower quality songs on an extended version to drain fans of money. The music’s electronic screeches may be far from ‘natural’, but the spirit of the music is by far the most authentic you will find today.

Throwing all of that away would push Charli XCX back four years to sophomore record Sucker. It’s pop gold, catchy and radio-friendly, but it wasn’t fully Charli XCX. She pulled out of a live tour because she was just “going through the motions”. Sure, fans love albums, but what XCX is doing has surpassed the album form we know today.

Inevitably, the question that comes with a pop star’s album is about a tour. That’s how it works. One year the pop star puts out an album, they promote it across TV and radio and then spend the next year touring it around the world. Once that’s finished, the process is repeated. Another ‘fan’ pointed out that avoiding the album label means no funding for a tour.

But why does Charli XCX need funding for a tour? Sure, she’s got fans all over the world who are dying to see her and she’s only played a handful of Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 shows in big cities. There’s a reason for that. If the effervescent electronica of those mixtapes was strained into a setlist to be repeated for 30 nights in a row, same production, same show, not only would it lose what it stands for, it just wouldn’t work.

“I struggle with touring and to perform pop 2 live and consistently is very hard because of the immense number of features and the immense amount of partying I gotta do to make it hype for you guys”, Charli XCX tweeted.

XCX’s music is created with collaborators, bouncing off each other to push the sounds into new, unheard directions. At those astonishing mixtape shows and afterparties, that same energy emerges. The collaborators are there, the energy of the crowd matches that of the studio and Charli thrives off it. These are small, sweaty venues, the fandom in close quarters, XCX can look every person in the eye. The high-energy music needs all of that to go off with a bang. Trying to create that night after night on a traditional pop tour is not only a logistic impossibility (come on, the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Kim Petras and Dorian Electra have their own badass music to work on too) but would take all of the spontaneity out of XCX’s music.

Then what about the fans who can’t make those shows? Well, XCX just came off a worldwide tour playing mammoth stadiums with Taylor Swift and supported Halsey across the United States last year too. The mixtape music was, largely, put on pause and she tailored her sets for the atmosphere afforded to her. XCX is not leaving anyone out.

So that’s that, Charli XCX doesn’t need to make a full album or run a full tour. Music fans can either like it or miss out on the freshest voice of a generation.

Tell us all your thoughts on Charli XCX on Twitter @CelebMix.

Written by Toby Bryant

Student journalist: music, sport, culture and just about anything in-between… Have worked for The Courier, NME, Daily Mirror, FourFourTwo & British Rowing, amongst others.
@toby_bryant_ on Instagram and Twitter.