Charli XCX: Vroom Vroom

Punky UK diva flexes some muscle on a quick-hit EP

Credit: Bradley and Pablo

Charli XCX is the rare pop diva who can make an EDM robot character sound more punk than pop. Her four-song Vroom Vroom EP is the perfect snack between 2014's Sucker and her as-yet-untitled third LP. With Sophie of naifish UK pop collective PC Music producing every track, this quick-hit release unleashes something more visceral than we’re used to from her. Title track "Vroom Vroom" features a dirty, rubberband beat that compliments the way she enhances her British accent, upping the song’s cheekiness. On the Pulp Fiction-sampling "Trophy," XCX is a Major Lazer step team leader, while Italo dance banger "Paradise" glistens with help from vocalist Hannah Diamond. Given the heavy influence of Sophie's style on Vroom Vroom, it's surprising that the EP isn't billed as a joint effort; the production takes a lead instead of acting as Charli’s supporting character. However, the pair's identities coalesce into dubby, future-pop bliss on "Secret (Shh)," the grimy, dark, apocalyptic ballad co-produced by London DJ Jodie Harsh that caps off the EP with sublimely gloomy sexuality. It proves how XCX remains one of pop's most independent, inventive minds.