Charli XCX, True Romance
Heading toward hip-hop pop provocateur territory
Charli XCX (née Charlotte Aitchison) may have staked her initial musical claim on electro-Goth turf, but on her debut full-length, the 20-year-old singer/songwriter heads toward hip-hop pop provocateur territory. True Romance is Aitchison’s tribute to primordial longing for love and the enviable comedown when it’s over. Like genre-gobbling kindred spirit Grimes, Aitchison cherry-picks styles highlighting her journey from angst to elation and back again with Siouxsie Sioux synths, Material Girl hooks, and sing-speech akin to M.I.A. basking in the afterglow. Although aiming for an alternate-dimension mainstream takeover (“Nuclear Seasons” is a kohl-lined cousin to Britney Spears’s “Toxic,”), Aitchison has her art-school dropout priorities in place — never resting on one idea long enough for us to get comfortable. Moving between a seductive rap-whisper to a throaty growl with preternatural ease, she never once gives the idea that she’s ever less than in full control.