It's tempting — and easy — to fall into the trap of saying Charli XCX was always a superstar, and that the world just didn't know. Her debut album should have been Number One. If only people had realised!
Actually, that's bollocks for a couple of reasons.
First, while 'True Romance' definitely was the best album of last year, if you listen to it with a level head it probably did about as well as it could have done. Sometimes good stuff just isn't supposed to sell.
Also, Charli XCX was not always a superstar. She was kind of brilliant when we saw her play live at age 14 and she was rather more brilliant when we saw her play live a few years later, but it was only in 2014 that absolutely everything fell into place. Charli's been waiting for people to listen for a long time and in 2014, when people did start listening, she rose to the occasion and knew exactly what to do. This year her interviews have been great, her music's been top notch and when we watched her on stage at Heaven a month or so ago she looked — and sounded — like a festival headliner.
Charli finishes 2014 (UK readers: starts 2015 but let's not go into that) by releasing 'Sucker', which is an extraordinary album. There’s pop that sounds like rock, rock that sounds like pop and pop that sounds like pop. There are ballads, there are bangers. It’s loads of things you might have hoped for after ‘True Romance’ and it’s loads of things you wouldn’t have expected after ‘True Romance’. It sounds like a globe-straddling chart behemoth who’s stomped around for as long as you can remember just as much as it sounds like the arrival of a brand new pop queen. Some songs are precision tooled to be Number One, others are designed to be nothing of the sort. There are ups, there are downs. There’s truth, there’s romance. There are booms, there are claps. There’s swearing.
We'll give it this mark.