Call Charli XCX what you want, but don’t call her a one-trick pony. The savvy British pop invader started out idolizing divisive Ed Banger rapper Uffie, released a proper debut album, True Romance, that mastered tasteful, emotive electro-pop (sampling, improbably, both Gold Panda and Todd Rundgren), and has played a supporting role on hits ranging from Icona Pop’s vodka-Red Bull bout of recklessness “I Love It” and Iggy Azalea’s summer-dominating ode to rock-star lifestyle “Fancy.” The singer/songwriter born Charlotte Aitchison’s new album, Sucker, if anything tries out too many different approaches; she ably showcased two of them this weekend on Saturday Night Live.
On Friday night Charli had stopped by New York City’s Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden, but it was the Martin Freeman-hosted episode of SNL that had her telling MTV she was so anxious she might “vomit.” First up came “Boom Clap,” her biggest hit in her own right, which she performed faithfully as the lovestruck synth-pop anthem that it is. Then she switched from her giant starry earrings and youthful light-pink outfit for that song to a dog-collar necklace and more grown-up shade of deep red for “Break the Rules,” prancing around the stage like a would-be Mick Jagger for the song’s punched-up rebellion. Her suit-wearing, all-female backing band ensured the performances were as musically precise as they were visually cohesive.
Seeing as Charli recently told Time her third album will be influenced by Japanese pop and at once like “another planet up in the clouds” and “intensely weird and childlike,” she ought to have plenty of new tricks up her sleeve when she makes her hoped-for SNL return. Just so long as she doesn’t vomit. (Unless it’s, like, a GWAR or Lady Gaga art-project kind of thing.)