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Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest (Album Review)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

Charlotte Gainsbourg seems to move between pop music and acting with a freedom and fluidity that her British contemporaries struggle to emulate. This may be environmental: it feels like UK music execs often place newness and youth ahead of artistic pedigree.

But the other factor in the Anglo-French artist’s success is the uniqueness and vitality of her talent, which is showcased superbly on her fifth studio album.

'Rest' channels a panoply of styles, from the chanson story telling of openers Ring-A-Ring O’ Roses and Lying With You to the curious synth-prog of Les Crocodiles. Then there’s the disco-infused Sylvia Says and Deadly Valentine - both co-written with EDM Producer SebastiAn.

The latter track is a beautifully thoughtful groover that develops Gainsbourg’s distinctive, breathy singing alongside a firecracker bassline and adept, nimble chord changes.

It’s one of the high points, and the lyrics fugue on a circular melodic phrase, deploying majestic wedding vows: “With this ring I thee wed, with all my worldly goods I thee endow [...] From this day forward, for better, for worse, until death do us part.”

Another winning moment arrives on Rest, a collab with Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. This delicate digital track is a fairly perfect manifestation of Gainsbourg’s sound, matching bilingual, often whispered lyrics with ornate arrangement and immaculate texturing. It uses lines from Walking in the Air - taken from the 1982 animated film, The Snowman.

Here we see that multi-discipline fluidity put to work once again, with Gainsbourg’s latest film appearance being in a Nordic murder mystery also called The Snowman. Coincidence? Je ne pense pas. There's plenty to like here.

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