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‘Club Classics/B2b’ Review: Charli XCX Has Mastered the Party

4.5 Stars

Charli XCX released "Club Classics / B2b" on April 3.
Charli XCX released "Club Classics / B2b" on April 3. By Courtesy of Charli XCX / Atlantic Recording Corporation
By Daniel T. Liu, Contributing Writer

Sweat, bodies, and a pounding beat. Charli XCX’s new pair of singles, “Club Classics” and “B2b,” are a glorious combined 331-second testament to her DJing skill. With entrancing, bouncy beats, both songs from her latest announced album, “BRATS,” are certified party girl material.

On a club dance floor, “Club Classics” is energy on energy. Bold synths rise and break over an addictive elastic bass, and everything is about the “right now,” as the song chants over and over. Charli’s signature rhythmical voice rides the beat, creating an urgency to get up to dance and rage. The repeated jolty jumps in the beat only increase this urgency.

This curated energy is not just hype, it’s the mark of a rave DJ who began at 14 years old, hypnotizing crowds into a euphoric daze for over a decade and a half. Her electrifying mixing is mesmeric, with its overlaid voices inducing pure rhythmic bliss. All this is witness to her lifelong journey with party culture. In a return to the club DJ booth from her stint as a pop diva with “Crash,” “Club Classics” reminds listeners of the underworld of piercing laser lights and sparkling bodies that she has always belonged to.
A key point of the song is the “Classics.” Charli knows she has not come this far alone. The song pays homage to the lineage of classics, those electronic music artists and their legacies that she’s inherited — “I wanna dance with SOPHIE / I wanna dance with HudMo,” she vocalizes. But Charli is not afraid to insert herself in the mix: “I wanna dance with me.”

The sister single, “B2b” shifts the needle again to the crowd. Drilling over 200 “back”s in the song’s lyrics, all of them fittingly back-to-back, Charli builds an empire of calibrated vocal clips. These clips lead the listener to a state of hazy stupor through repetition, echoing the meditative trance one experiences in the center of a nightclub. The unearthly, synthetic high pitch of an alien synth comes out to play, before melodic glissandos smooth out the beat before the drop. Again, we see Charli’s skill in controlling the party, bewitching listeners into the kind of mindfulness they gain only with the bass pummeling.

The only break from the “back-to-back” is after the drop, leaning into Charli’s sweet vocalizations meshed through a machine filter for a glassy effect. The honeyed release of pent-up repetition feels fresh and is perfect for the leadup to the end of the song: a series of breaths, perfectly on beat. It’s the perfect conclusion, a reminder of the breath of the party-goer closest on the dance floor. In close to three minutes, Charli takes listeners through a rager — from the bouncing bass and the swelling synths to the spellbinding repetition and vocal liberation, it is a masterclass in the club anthem.

Charli XCX has long been known for her iconic sound of hyperpop and pop, but her return to the start of her life as an artist — the London warehouse stage where she first played to crowds — is a definitive revival. In February, Charli DJ’ed a set with Boiler Room in a warehouse, this time in Bushwick. “Club Classics” was on the set list, and they mesmerized the ravers. There is no one who throws a party like Charli XCX.

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