Ever since Charli XCX smashed into our lives with Nuclear Seasons, we’ve been rather excited for her first full-length album. A subsequent knockout performance at MTV’s Brand New series in January 2012 highlighted to us just how special she is on stage as well as in the studio (kitted out in platform shoes the size of breeze blocks, no less); meanwhile You’re the One, a Super Ultra mixtape, and that ubiquitous Icona Pop collaboration have lent a lot of weight to the expectations to Ms Aitchison’s debut, which she certainly lives up to.
There’s no denying from her lyrics and videos that Charli’s a 90s kid, but aurally there’s nary a hint of the Spice Girls she idolised – if anything and if you can imagine such a thing, her sound is essentially the pop equivalent of Camden’s Cyberdog store.
Nuclear Seasons is still the bankable opener, and songs such as Take My Hand and Black Roses are as floor-friendly as what we’ve heard from her before (Cloud Aura, Stay Away etc, all included here). It’s sweaty, futuristic fuzz-pop; the production at times veers toward claustrophobia albeit the sort you might feel in a club, having no option but to dance your way out.
Charli has said in the past that this album is an exploration of every aspect of her past romances – So Far Away and How Can I are indeed the darker side of commercial pop, while album standout Set Me Free’s liberated vocal does come across surprisingly raw.
Most of her releases in the last year have categorised young Charli as a peddler of both the joy and anger that comes with a first crush. True Romance isn’t so much a nod to Tarantino as it is an homage to that phrase in its purest sense: a singing continuation of the dreamy, dopey love we’ve all experienced at some point.