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We probably should have had this second solo record proper from Charli XCX sooner than this; disregarding the most recent delays, which have begun to border on the farcical - the decision to adhere to the long-since-redundant model of releasing it either side of the new year on different sides of the pond included - you suspect that the follow-up to True Romance would have been with us quicker if Charlotte Aitchison hadn't been behind the two of the biggest pop songs of 2014. She promoted 'Fancy' extensively, making a slew of television appearances in the U.S. with Iggy Azalea, and 'Boom Clap' - bolstered by a high-profile movie appearance - took on a life of its own.

It makes perfect sense, though, that Aitchison should find some of her biggest success in chart-pop collaboration - see also Icona Pop's 'I Love It' - because Sucker is a striking showcase of her ability to craft a no-nonsense, frustratingly catchy chorus. The way she put Azalea firmly in the shade on 'Fancy' suggested as such, and Sucker largely bears the theory out; tracks like 'Break the Rules' and 'London Queen' will win precisely zero awards for lyrical dexterity, but they lend themselves perfectly to the aggressive, no bullshit persona she's spent the past year or so crafting, framed by references to material wealth ('Gold Coins'), drugs ('Body of My Own') and carefree youth ('Famous', 'Hanging Around').

Aitchison, in the solo pop star stakes, was second only to Taylor Swift last year and Sucker provides a fascinating counterpoint to the cool calculation, sky-high production values and squeaky-clean thematic content of 1989. Both records have catchiness carved into their DNA and both play like paeans to the power of the hook, but Sucker has a sonic density and a breadth of ideas that bely its lyrical simplicity. This is in part down to the sheer variety of co-writers on the album - some of the more prominent include Rivers Cuomo, Rostam Batmanglij and Greg Kurstin - but also indicative of Aitchison's intelligence as a songwriter; the likes of 'Sucker', 'Break the Rules' and 'Breaking Up' don't exactly sound cerebral in their construction, but there's clearly far more subtlety and nuance behind their creation than you might give them credit for on first listen.

Aitchison's willingness to play with pop stereotypes is another string to Sucker's bow. After Swift acted out the psychotic character she plays on 'Blank Space' in hilariously PG fashion in the accompanying video, it's refreshing to hear a genuinely chart-ready record open with a track built around the refrain "fuck you, sucker!", as well as make myriad references to a hedonistic lifestyle and steer mostly clear of the number one concept for albums of this ilk, romance; closer 'Need Ur Luv' is irresistibly tongue-in-cheek.

Interviews given in advance of Sucker's release suggest that Aitchison's immediate focus, touring aside, will be on continuing to collaborate, with some genuine A-listers lined up; that's enough to suggest that her greatest commercial successes might lie away from her out-and-out solo records. If that in itself, though, allows her to continue making pop records as uncompromising as this one, it'll by no means be a bad thing.

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