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Charlotte Gainsbourg: new track, album with Beck

Oct 16

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Friday, October 16, 2009  RssIcon

The major French music news these days is the return of Charlotte Gainsbourg. The Palme d'Or-winning actress is currently working on an album called 'IRM' in Los Angeles with Beck, and this week the title track has been made available on her website and by promo copy.

Charlotte GainsbourgYou may recall that Gainsbourg's previous album, the excellent '5:55' that came out in 2006, was made in collaboration with Air, Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon and Nigel Godrich. And the strings on that record, evoking those on the classic singles by Charlotte's old fella, were arranged by David Campbell, who is the father of Beck Hansen. (The Frenchwoman surely wins any 'my da's more famous than yours' debates that spring up in the studio.)

With a new collaborator comes a new direction. Where the lush and melodic '5:55' sounded like a Serge tribute album, with all parties repaying their debt to the great man, 'IRM' seems to tip its hat to The Beatles and their more experimental moments. Like 'Tomorrow Never Knows' or George's Indian-influenced songs, it's mainly in one chord and features a mantra-style vocal delivery and pounding basic rhythm. The lyrics are Lennon-esque in their visual quality and even drop in a reference to 'Glass Onion': as Charlotte explains in this short preview video the song was inspired when she was having MRI scans (in French, IRM) during treatment to remove a brain tumour in 2007.

Unfortunately, the track is boring, self-indulgent stuff. At times Charlotte lapses into a nagging whine that sounds like Dolores O'Riordan, which is a low point in any singer's career. And God rest poor George but everyone always skips over his Indian songs and with good reason. (Has anyone ever listened in full more than once to 'Within You Without You' on 'Sgt Pepper'?)

The first single, 'Heaven Can Wait', will be released on 19 October, and the album is down for release before the end of this year. We still think Charlotte is ultra-cool so let's hope the rest of the record is better than its title song. She's a neighbour of your correspondent: it'd be embarrassing to not like her album and then run into her in the queue at the bakery. (It's a better class of problem than having badly-dressed Rathmines bedsit singer-songers corner you in Whelans.)

You can listen to the track 'IRM' on Charlotte Gainsbourg's MySpace. Should you wish to buy it, head over to her website. Here's a homemade video for 'IRM':


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5 comment(s) so far...


Re: Charlotte Gainsbourg: new track, album with Beck

This is very different indeed but sounds way better than melancholic 555 to me so far... I am glad to see she has refined her own style (Although with the help of Beck)...

By Flohic Morin on   Sunday, October 18, 2009

Re: Charlotte Gainsbourg: new track, album with Beck

Although I haven't heard the record, I have to agree that IRM is massively disappointing. I had intended playing it on last week's show but it's so dull I couldn't bring myself to inflict it on people. I was expecting an innovative, creative take on a brain x-ray...not to actually feel as though I was lying motionless in a claustrophobic cylinder wondering if I'd left the iron on. I love Beck, I loved 555 and I'm hoping that they've made a brilliant, exciting album...but on the basis of this, I doubt it very much :/

By jan on   Monday, October 19, 2009

Re: Charlotte Gainsbourg: new track, album with Beck

Flohic, fair play to her for changing her sound so radically, but... it's such a monotonous track and that's never a good thing.

Jan, the fact that she went to LA to make the album makes me pessimistic: it's such a cliche and I fear it'll be a record of self-help lyrics about being famous. BTW I reckon that's the first time you've plugged the show on CLUAS: tell us more! (As if I were some kind of communications person :)

By aidan on   Monday, October 19, 2009

Re: Charlotte Gainsbourg: new track, album with Beck

The LA factor is additional cause for concern...will reserve (harsh) judgement until I've heard it.

Was that a plug? Yikes! I suppose the essential info is that it's called Wired for Sound, it's on RTE 2XM on Thursday's at 7pm, repeated Saturdays at 6pm.

Communications indeed - ever considered a career change? ;)

By jan on   Monday, October 19, 2009

Re: Charlotte Gainsbourg: new track, album with Beck

Good stuff: watch your French listenership soar! And there's your photo on that link too :)

Another factor for Charlotte concern: this time around she's (co-)writing. Last time all the songs were by Air, Jarvis and Neil Hannon. This isn't looking good at all. Oh, Charlotte.

By aidan on   Monday, October 19, 2009

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Aidan Curran, based in Paris, has been writing for CLUAS since 2004. More info about Aidan...

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