Originally published for The List.
Charli XCX – True Romance
The goth-pop vocalist’s debut combines pop sensibilities with emotional lyrics and electro beats
Charli XCX‘s journey to pop stardom has been anything but quick. She got her first big break when she was 14, being invited to perform at a warehouse rave in east London, after the host had heard a few of her demos on MySpace, and by 16, she was signed to a major label. Fast forward six years, a series of singles and sessions with numerous producers later and we finally have a debut album. True Romance is packed full of energy, with glittering synths, hip hop beats and big pop choruses.
Working with several different collaborators – from major pop producers like Ariel Reichstadt and Patrik Berger to blog favourites Blood Diamonds and J£zus Millions – has given the album more versatility in terms of sound and pace. Half-way through and you begin to wonder when the album is going to reach a lull: from the dancefloor-ready ‘Take My Hand’ to the anthemic ‘Set Me Free’, each track shows that Charli XCX feels she has a point to prove. Her sultry vocals really shine on tracks like ‘Stay Away’ and ‘How Can I’ where they are not drowned out by the heavy, industrial beats. ‘What I Like’ is a certified pop banger, with its acid house-esque intro, fast-paced vocal delivery and infectious chorus.
While it may not be a pop album in the traditional sense, True Romance combines pop sensibilities with emotional lyrics and electro beats to craft Charli XCX’s signature sound – often dubbed as ‘goth-pop’. It is the album she had to deliver to silence the naysayers who had brushed her off as a ‘Tumblr-wave’ and is up there as one of the best debut albums from a pop star for a number of years.