Charli XCX - True Romance

As the opening notes of ‘Nuclear Seasons’ seep through the speakers, it becomes apparent that this is an artist much more mature than her years.

Label: Asylum Records

Rating: 7

Charlotte Aitchison’s debut album, ‘True Romance’, which follows up 2012’s mixtapes ‘Heartbreaks and Earthquakes’ and ‘Super Ultra’, has been a long time coming. She started playing her songs at raves when she was 14, which her Dad would attend dressed as The Mad Hatter, signed her first record deal at 16 and opened for Coldplay when they toured the US. A pretty impressive career already, especially for someone who only turned 20 last summer.

As the opening notes of ‘Nuclear Seasons’ seep through the speakers, it becomes apparent that this is an artist much more mature than her years. Her songs of heartache come across as genuine and honest, which can be difficult for a young musician, but she does it with confidence. It doesn’t always work, but ‘So Far Away’, ‘What I Like’ and single ‘Stay Away’ are great examples of what she is capable of. But all too often the standards let slip, and tracks like ‘Take My Hand’ and ‘Set Me Free’ don’t do her ability any justice at all.

The self-confessed Uffie fanatic has clearly soaked up a lot of influences for her first release, and has previously said she is aiming for somewhere on a venn diagram between Lykke Li, The Knife and Zola Jesus. That isn’t a bad crowd to belong to at all, but her intentions don’t always match the result. When she attempts to emulate her idols, she does it incredibly well with ‘Grins’ and ‘How Can I’, but they’re intertwined with tracks such as ‘Black Roses’ and ‘Lock You Up’, which sound like they’re from the cutting room floor of I Blame Coco or Ladyhawke. It gives the whole album a slightly confused sound. She veers from one influence to another, and never seems to quite settle on a direction.

Still, it’s a commendable first release, and despite some low points, it makes an enjoyable listen. Gold Panda fans may raise an eyebrow when they listen to recent single ‘You (Ha Ha Ha)’, but it’s just another example of where she is trying to let all her influences seep through. She has the ability to carve out some gorgeous pop songs, but seems to be trying to cover too many bases. But it’s not a case of Jack of all trades, master of none, because if she sticks to her guns, you may never hear the end of her.