Charli XCX

CHARLI XCX opening for MARINA & THE DIAMONDS at Echo Beach (909 Lake Shore West), tonight (Thursday, May 23), 8 pm, all ages. $28.50-$38.50. RT, SS, LN. See listing.

You’ll have to excuse Charli XCX for gushing about her current tour with Welsh singer/songwriter Marina & the Diamonds.

“It feels like some Justin Bieber shows or something!” exclaims the British singer/songwriter over the phone. “It’s cool to see that people know the words to my songs.” Of her tour mate, she adds, “Marina is very real. She’s like my big sister, and I’m the little sister who gets into trouble.”

Workwise, she’s been on the straight and narrow. Charli (whose real name is Charlotte Aitchison) wrote and was featured on Swedish duo Icona Pop’s infectious smash I Love It and has opened for Coldplay and Ellie Goulding in Europe.

But she takes top billing with her long-delayed debut album, True Romance (Asylum/I Am Sound), which dropped in April. “It was just me being really, really pedantic about stuff like the time spacings between songs and the artwork,” she says of the delay.

It was worth it. Inspired by “80s drama, 80s romance” songs by the Cure and Kate Bush as well as artists from French label Ed Banger like Uffie (“All her lyrics are straight-up and kind of dumb, but I really like that”), it’s a sometimes gloomy, always personal look back at the singer’s relationship experiences.

“People are becoming a lot more open-minded, and audiences are tired of being treated like idiots,” she says of pop’s current landscape. “They want emotion again. You have to have the darker side as well, the emotionally unstable bits where you’re crying and depressed.”

While Rolling Stone called True Romance the “pop album equivalent of a wicked Tumblr,” Charli says that assessment isn’t exactly fair.

“Don’t get me wrong – I really love Tumblr. I post pictures of Britney Spears, and then I post pictures of myself. But I don’t take it too seriously,” she says. “The Tumblr equivalent of a pop record sounds kind of throwaway, and I wanted to make a pop album with my own twist.”

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