British synthpop newbie Charli XCX made one of last year’s greatest songs, the cavernous “Stay Away.” That’s the first thing to know about her. The other thing to know about her is that most of her press these days comes from blogs (hi), which value super-timeliness. And both her tracks so far–”Stay Away” and “Nuclear Seasons”–have been intense–awesomely so, but enough that a breather track would be just as welcome. All this adds up to what we’ve got: a free track on Valentine’s Day, called (appropriately) “Valentine.” Fortunately, it too is fantastic.
The track sounds lush, of course, considering who’s made it; it’s alternatively burbling and plaintive and just a bit tense, exactly like a crush feels. That comes out in the lyrics, too, some of which you might’ve written years ago or, oh, this week: “I sit next to you in the biology lecture, and I pretend that I don’t understand just to catch your attention,” “Lying on the sofa, I wanted to kiss you, I wanted to kiss you, but I couldn’t get up close.” Entire movies (and lives) have just gotten a spiritual soundtrack; when the inevitable “valentine” line arrives, it’s more than earned.
None of these, however, are what makes “Valentine” great. What makes “Valentine” great is this lyric: “I’m starting to worry that I’m sounding like The Fray.” Please say you relate to this. Please, please say it. I mean, I do.