Album Review: Charli XCX – True Romance
Charlotte Aitchison, or Charli XCX as we have come to know the synth-pop starlet over the past couple of years, has this week released her debut album – and album that has been a very long time in the making. Though the musician has released a series of EP’s and a token promotional record, True Romance boasts the debut title for the star as she reaches a new-found commercial appeal for the masses, taking her time in crafting a truly memorable debut effort.
Capitalizing on the influx of electro-pop and synth-pop acts that have reigned supreme over the past 5 years, Charli XCX is a welcome addition to a genre she appears to have mastered over the course of several hit singles. Her first was released back in 2008 and offered the singer enough exposure to be signed over to IAAMSOUND records where she began releasing the singles that are featured here on True Romance.
Opening up with the singers infectious 2011 single, though in a slight remixed form, is Nuclear Seasons. It’s the perfect track to open the lid of True Romance as it spirals through a radio friendly melody and delivers one of albums highlight hits with its sparkly, 80’s inspired dressing.
The following You (Ha Ha Ha) is one of the strongest numbers thrown into the mix here. Though the instrumentation of the track can, at times, seem a little messy and intimidating for those perhaps unfamiliar with the genre, it is the playful flow and vocal delivery of this track that highlights Charli’s artistic bravery and growth and after a couple of listens, this track really begins to grow on you.
The following Take My Hand, with its spacey effects and retro synth loops that spin around this tracks elastic backbone is a catchy clonk to the True Romance machine.
Boasting a swaying melody, Stay Away is a solid four minutes worth of engaging balladry at its finest. While it evokes an industrial, dark-wave feel similar to the likes of fellow synth-pop heavyweights, Hurts, Charli’s vocals rain over the number with heartache, unleashing a string of metaphorically drenched lines like, “On my hands on my knees pulled on the chains / Licking up the blood yeah I made this decision” as she paints a lyrically graphic picture of regret and despair for the listener.
The quality seems to veer slightly downward with some mediocre inclusions as we approach the end of the record. Tracks like So Far Away with its muffled vocals and what sound like a dip into uncomplimentary hip-hop territory during the tracks lackluster, spoken word verses, begin to drown out the record with its inferior quality. Thankfully the dip doesn’t last too long and momentum quickly builds back up as we discover Black Roses which adds a dash of playfulness and fluffiness to True Romance. It’s Garbage meets La Roux with a decent sequence of hooks here and its seemingly effortless display of eclecticism and genre-blending help make this a memorable album appendage.
This is an electronica infused rock chick who knows her way around a hit as we hear in numerous moments throughout True Romance. It is a relatively cohesive collection that is gelled together by Charli’s expressive and impressive songwriting skills. Having co-write credits on all of the songs captured within True Romance has certainly given this record its much needed personal Charli XCX touch.
True Romance , which in its title pays homage to the Quentin Tarantino film of the same name, is an edgy, sophisticated electro-pop record with an indulgent dose of indietronica scattered amongst its 45 minute duration.