Thursday 9 February 2012

NME Awards Show 2012: Charli XCX @ The Lexington, London

Following the release last year of singles Stay Away and Nuclear Seasons, Charli XCX is busy spreading word of her goth-pop music in preparation for an album later this year.  And at just 19, this rising star has much to offer.

This night at the Lexington started with a set from Mz Bratt, who's far from the childish figure her name may suggest.  You may recognise her from her appearance in the Children In Need single Teardrop.  She bounded onto the stage in a blaze of sass and attitude to deliver some floor-filling tracks to a less than filled floor.  It was a shame as she deserves a bigger audience to patter with, though the banter between her and her hype guy was full of energy.  Her mix of rave and garage music, like single Tear It All Downover which she rapped and sang with swagger, certainly got the minimal crowd going but is better suited to a larger, packed club venue.

Next up was synth-pop duo Icona Pop, from (where else?) Sweden.  Though the set began with some moody posturing, the rhythmic, industrial production couldn't fail to get the crowd moving.  The frantic energy and buzzing synths is like a mix of Niki & The Dove and Passion Pit, firmly living up to their pop name.  The duo consist of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, who's unison vocals were strong but added harmonies would offer greater depth.  At only three songs, all taken from current EP 'Nights Like This', the set was far too short, so fingers crossed there will be more to come from this exciting duo in the near future.

The support acts at first glance may not seem a suitable match for Charli XCX.  Yet she combines the youthful, urban spunk of Mz Bratt with the electric production of Icona Pop into a mix that crosses boundaries.  In fact, having her mic draped in black tinsel provides a perfect metaphor for her goth pop - harsh and metallic, yet polished to a glittering pop sheen.

She arrived on set dressed in black, emblazoned in a blue glow looking suitably new-age witch.  Despite lacking any stage banter, her stage persona was a bundle of energy that stood out from the frenzy of neon strobes around her.  She snarled and pouted her way through each of the small handful of songs performed with youthful attack and a touch of punk arrogance, like Avril Lavigne's darker, goth sister.  Vocally the performance was powerful yet ethereal and, although the set was a little one-dimensional, the two radio-friendly singles particularly stood out.  Her cover of Athlete's Wires was also a nice change of pace.  Her greatest asset however is her ability to cross boundaries.  Though pop at heart, her music fuses elements of rave, drum and bass beats and goth metal, like a mix of every high school stereotype. It's a mix that has appeal for teenagers and critics alike, though for all her on-stage bravado she remains a young girl at heart.

Combined, the three acts were a diverse mix that proved girl power is far from over.  Female dominance of the charts is set to continue - look out for these three edging closer to the limelight over the following months.


Listen: Charli XCX's singles Stay Away and Nuclear Seasons are available now to download.  Similarly, Mz Bratt has various singles, including Tear It All Down, available, as is Icona Pop's EP 'Nights Like This'.