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While the music industry and media have been ready to crown Charli XCX a pop queen for years now, it took the one-two punch of ”Fancy” and ”Boom Clap” on the pop charts this summer to bring the rest of the world around. That delay may have been a blessing, though; if Charli had broken through back in 2010 when she first signed a record deal, someone might have tried to smooth out the more interesting spiky bits in her personality and her music, and she might have been green enough to let them.

Instead, Charli’s spent that time refining her spin on the classic bad-girl persona, one that’s defiantly foulmouthed and sexually liberated. It takes only a little over 30 seconds into SUCKER before she’s yelling F-bombs over a rave-y breakbeat and throbbing synth bass — and from there on out the record unleashes a sustained blast of sugary pop and postadolescent rebellion.

As ”Boom Clap” and Icona Pop’s ”I Love It” (which she co-penned) proved, Charli is phenomenally gifted at delivering hooks, but she also likes to scuff them up, dousing even her most accessible melodies with giddily obnoxious noise. Assisted by a team of musicians who share her combination of mainstream ambition and counterculture cred (including Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, and EDM producer Cashmere Cat), she makes grungy guitars, blown-out electronics, and bubblegum hooks work in sync. SUCKER is pop-punk, radically redefined and dragged, middle fingers waving, into the future. A-

Best Tracks:
”Breaking Up”
”Gold Coins”