by Richard Hart
The early days are often the most exciting, the most risky for a young up and coming musician. You’re trying to build a fan base, to sign a record deal and to truly take off while all around you there are hundreds of others with the same exact idea. Some of them are more talented than you, some of them are luckier than you are and some of them are younger than you are.
Charli XCX’s career started more than ten years ago, even though she’s only recently turned twenty. The striking brunette has a wicked sense of humour, a rich voice and undoubted sex appeal. Her music in the early singles has been a rich, evocative gothic pop that’s akin to Goldfrapp, No Doubt and has a touch of Depeche Mode to it.
Super Ultra isn’t her first mixtape. Heartbreaks and Earthquakes was an excellent mixtape, constructed from snippets of her own songs, a borrowed song and clips from her favourite movies. Super Ultra is a cut off the same block but with much more limited results.
Super Ultra is much more poppy, much more easy to listen to but far less exciting and atmospheric. Perhaps it’s a victim of too many remixes on one mix but it just falls short of the superb standards that Charli set. “You’re The One” was a rich, exciting and dark pop song. But Super Ultra falls flat on almost every track which is a terrible shame.
“COLD NITES” is a solid track, if a bit melodramatic. Overproduced, gothic and in keeping with Charli’s general style, it’s a solid pop song. “FORGIVENESS” is the closing track and it’s a broad, sweeping almost operatic track. Charli shows off her excellent vocal range, evoking Maria Carey and No Doubt.
“VELVET DREAMING” is a classically Charli XCX song, playing out almost like a more laid back version of “Nuclear Seasons”. “HEATWAVE” is a rather saccharine pop song that’s almost like early Madonna work is instantly forgettable.
Of course there is some undoubted quality in there still. “GLOW” is a dark, atmospheric song that shows her range as a musician. But weak pop tracks like “DANCE 4 U” and “CLOUD AURA” both fail to evoke much aside from a mild sense of disappointment.
All of these tracks would be right at home in a club and Charli has a wide appeal, even before her music is watered down into a sub dub step cliché. Perhaps its just a sign of her early careers jitters or an attempt to reach a wider audience but Super Ultra is a disappointing mis step in her early career.
One suspects with her mix of gifts, her career will have an upward trajectory regardless of these sort of missteps.