Charli XCX turns 21 this year, but already she has some battle scars on the way to becoming a pop star. In her early teens she somehow ended up performing at raves in London warehouses, occasionally with her parents in tow. She posted songs on her MySpace page, back when that was the protocol. She made an album called “14” when she was around that age, but it was never commercially released and she has an obvious distaste for it now.
When her career stalled after that, she struggled to find her footing before putting out some singles, mixtapes, and EPs. This year, however, the stars aligned. “True Romance,” her new album, which is technically her second but sounds like a debut, has generated a healthy dose of buzz. Like Solange’s “True,” it’s the unusual pop record that’s aimed at a mainstream audience while still appealing to indie fans. As a bonus, Charli, whose given name is Charlotte Aitchison, also co-wrote “I Love It,” the hit song by Icona Pop, the rising Swedish electro-pop duo.