“New Shapes” By Charli XCX Song Review: Re-imagining An 80’s Pop Wonderland
On November 4, hyperpop’s latest It Girl Charli XCX released a new single “New Shapes” featuring collaborators Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens. The track is the second single from Charli XCX’s new album CRASH, which is set to release on March 18, 2022. All three artists have previously collaborated individually, although never together despite their overlapping fanbases, which primarily consist of young, queer and female-identifying individuals. The single was released at the same time as Charli XCX’s announcement for her upcoming tour, which will begin in March 2022 in Oakland, California and conclude in her native England.
“New Shapes” is a refreshing ode to 80’s pop, with surging synths and steady drum machine beats throughout that feel extremely familiar, even to listeners that grew up in a later era. The song’s chorus has a commercial quality, with the three artists harmonizing the phrase “what you want, I ain’t got it,” which harkens to an era where television ads were as blatant as declarations of romance. “New Shapes” contradicts its bubbly nature with the somber reminder that relationships are ever-evolving and often come to an end when a couple loses sight of who the other has become.
Charli XCX takes hold of the first verse, asserting that she’s “gotta be free, need to breathe,” which speaks on the suffocating feeling that can accompany an unfulfilling long-term relationship. With the assertion that “we could fall in love in new shapes,” Charli is hopeful that a new beginning will prevail in a love that has fallen stagnant. Christine and the Queens take the second verse in stride, as her past work on albums like 2016’s Chaleur Humaine proves that she is the most native to this bright and transparently nostalgic style of production.
Polachek’s spot on the bridge is well placed, as her tingling operatic vocals thrusts the listener further into the tracks’ escapist fantasy of renewed romance. Polachek concludes her solo performance with the spitting declaration that “life would be better if I/ never met you in the first place.” All three artists rejoin on the final chorus, vocally lifting each other towards an unburdened emotional space free from the exhaustion that unsatisfying modern-day relationships bring about.
In September 2021, Charli XCX teased a snippet of the music video for the track on Instagram, with the finished video rumored to release by the end of November.
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