Charli XCX's Timeless Pain

Freestyling through heartache

Both the freestyle laments and Charli XCX's tracks are directed toward a "you" that's floating in space; few details about those responsible for the heartbreak are filled out by the lyrics, which instead focus on the pain radiating from within and its sources. It might be one of the most crucial elements in making singles like "Spring Love" and "Stay Away" more immediate, even while they're soaked in retro tropes; that relentless looking outward allows the listener—or, in probably a lot of cases, the person singing along—to share in the catharsis, making the space between artist and audience charged with the sort of commonality that defies ideas of timeliness.

Charli XCX plays the Knitting Factory on Saturday and Santos Party House on Monday.

mjohnston@villagevoice.com

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