True Romance

"We use to be the cool kids/You were old school, I was on the new shit," chants Charlotte Aitchison, a.k.a. Charli XCX, on "You (Ha Ha Ha)." She's on it still: Built from a shining sample of EDM artiste Gold Panda, the single highlights a dazzling electro-pop debut that splits the difference between Grimes' art-school affect and Robyn's emo disco. Raised in semirural Hertfordshire, England, Aitchison got her performance legs by spitting verses at raves, and fittingly, she's a Jedi master of potent motifs: the doo-woppy refrain of "Stay Away," the rapped kiss-off on "So Far Away," the orgasmic overlapping vocal lines on "Grins," the digi-vowels resolving the chorus of "Nuclear Seasons." Similarly, her rhymes – all street swagger and steamy gothic heartache – flash like low-rent neon. The effect can be breathtaking, even when the pieces don't cohere into memorable songs. But apropos of the new shit, you might never notice; True Romance is the pop-album equivalent of a wicked Tumblr.

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