Let’s all face it: Break The Rules (the second single from Sucker) is by title alone, the 21st Century’s answer to Anarchy In The UK. And that’s before you sink your teeth into the lyrical content – which sees our kitsch troubadour, Charli XCX, reroute Ronan Keating’s famous adage “Life is a rollercoaster / You just gotta ride it” before shockingly calling for adolescents all over the world to engage in illegal behavior, to get high and get rekt (or ‘wrecked’). Move over Russell Brand, Charlie XCX will be the one to lead us towards an apolitical nihilism utopia.
Ironically, nihilism (which in layman’s terms is the idea that everything is meaningless and that no values or morals have any worth) is probably the closest term I can use to describe my feelings whilst listening to Sucker. To continue to meander into philosophy, Sucker is the closest evocation of post-modern, materialistic malaise I have ever experienced, and surely in years to come, this album will be canonized at the locus of the black hole of meaningless, which constitutes the neo-capitalist human psyche.
Some of it is pretty catchy though. Boom Clap? That’s a nice song, isn’t it? Yes, I’ll give you that. But I do think it is ruined somewhat by a jarringly nasal chorus, considering the fact that the verses are sung rather pleasantly. It is literally a half-decent record. Unfortunately however, this hit-and-miss single is probably one of the best things on the album. Consider London Queen and Gold Coins, both of which have a scuzzy guitar-lead accompaniment which aims for pop punk, but sounds more like Bambi going through a short-lived grunge phase. Furthermore, the lyrics are decidedly suspect, with Gold Coins providing a nauseating “I want dollar” narrative, whilst London Queen includes the bizarre line, “When I’m driving on the wrong side of the road / I feel like JFK you know”. Are you shocked? I was, and I haven’t even taken it out of context. What could it mean? Is Charli displaying a distinct fatalism hearkening back to Kennedy’s assassination? Or has she run out of lyrical ideas? Personally, I advocate an alternate reading. In fact, our anarchic overlord, Charli, is paralleling her own art to the Kennedy’s involvement with the Apollo Project and the Space Race. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I probably have been too harsh on Charli – as there is a lot of landfill pop of this ilk that gets churned out year in, year out. She’s no anti-Christ, just decidedly boring. Breaking Up is forgettable, whilst her collaboration with Rita Ora, Doing It, has a degree of verve in the verses before descending into a dull refrain that can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a fist-pumper or an electro-ballad. Similarly, Body Of My Own does deal with relatively uncommon and brave lyrical content, centering itself on masturbation, but FKA Twigs in Two Weeks does it with infinitely more nuance.
One can’t help but think that the insubstantiality that defines most of the album, combined with the laughable, parodic attempts at rebellious discourse, serve to show that Charli isn’t a pioneer, rather, part of the chasing pack. If she continues to move in this hackneyed, faux-rebellious direction, I doubt we’ll be talking about her for much longer.