Charli XCX - True Romance (4 stars)

The goth-pop vocalist's debut combines pop sensibilities with emotional lyrics and electro beats

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Charli XCX - True Romance

(Asylum)

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.

Charli XCX

Over-14s show. Upcoming electro pop starlet plays songs from her debut album True Romance.

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