Under Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

Even before you hear a note of her music (or see one scene of a movie she’s in), odds are your speculations of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s style are going to be rather accurate.  A few contributing factors to her predictability: the name, the family, the nationality, the adorability.  Because of, or more accurately, despite her own perceived persona, Charlotte has made some recent career turns that both reinforce and subvert the image that’s been bestowed upon her.  In film, she co-starred in Antichrist, which gained notoriety for its unwatchable, savage violence even before its limited release.  Musically, she has partnered with Beck to create IRM, an album with as many sides as the artists behind it.  Inspired by Charlotte’s experience inside an MRI machine, IRM evokes the duality of using cold machinery to peer inside the human body.  Opening track “Master’s Hands” places Gainsbourg’s voice right up front, much in the way her father’s records were presented.  While she certainly possesses a measure of femininity, Gainsbourg’s voice is closer to her father’s than her mother’s.  Her unaffected, breathy voice pairs very well with Beck’s own, and the inevitable duet “Heaven Can Wait” offers a death-fixated compliment to the legendary “Je t’aime…Moi Non Plus.”  Speaking of, there’s plenty of French to go around on IRM, from the Gary Numan-y “Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes” to “La Collectionneuse,” which is really only half-sung in French.  The main musical theme of IRM is unclear, but the title track and the stomping “Trick Pony” show the breadth with which Gainsbourg is ready to establish her musical identity.  Though Beck’s production gets a little overbearing (many tracks sound like female-fronted leftovers from Modern Guilt), his songwriting and arrangements make up for and over-wrung motifs.  The one thing that makes IRM and, by association, Gainsbourg herself so interesting is that it doesn’t strive to play catch up with the iconic music of Charlotte’s father.  I imagine that she has struggled to escape the constant ties to her father’s legend, but Charlotte has proved that she’s more than just a knockout Frenchie.  And while she has yet to settle on a definitive character of her own, Gainsbourg’s self-searching experiments make for intriguing and poignant records.

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~ by E. on January 29, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM”

  1. ooh la la

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