You’ve gotta hand it to a 22-year-old who, on the brink of pop mega-stardom, opens her latest LP with a chant of “Fuck you, sucker!” But allow Charlotte Aitchison some cockiness. The writer and singer behind one of the decade’s most irresistible pop jams (Icona Pop’s “I Love It”) as well as one of its biggest (Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”), she clearly patterned her second LP on the Debbie Harry and CBGB-scene pinups on her Instagram – see “London Queen,” a song about tripping on America that channels Joey Ramone’s fake British accent through a real one and even swings a baseball bat.
But Sucker is no retro gesture: Charli runs the album’s rock & roll guitars and attitude through enough distressed digital production and thumb-type vernacular to make this the first fully updated iteration of punk pop in ages. It’s also a fitting cap to a music year often defined by powerful young women. Aitchison understands that the difference between a big dumb song and an awesome big dumb song is often just a tiny bit more groove and musk. A clever guitar riff and synth hiccup work alchemy on the boilerplate bling-worship of “Gold Coins,” and “Break the Rules” gets incredible mileage from rhyming the title with “I don’t want to go to school.” Like so many of the pop pleasures here, it’s a sentiment that just never gets old.