So Far Away
Label: Atlantic Records
Charli XCX is a skillful negotiator of cutting-edge dance music at its most au courant, from producer Clams Casino's witchy synths and trap snares to the blissfully glitchy Gold Panda beat she samples on "You (Ha Ha Ha)." But beneath those signifiers of cool, her ambitions are clearly set on pop on a grander scale. Modeling her delivery on Gwen Stefani's chirpy sneer, she easily holds her own amongst all the stadium-rave synths and '80s throwback tropes, as capable of breathy R&B ("So Far Away") as she is electro-pop anthems ("Nuclear Seasons") and even power ballads ("Set Me Free").