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Charlotte Gainsbourg - Take 2 EP (Album Review)

Tuesday, 08 January 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Almost 18 months on from its release, the ripples continue to flow out from Charlotte Gainsbourg’s ‘Rest’. A fabulous collection of gossamer synth-pop songs, the record already has a remix EP on one arm and now another new short-form release, ‘Take 2’, is vying for our attention.

Written and recorded with the EDM producer SebastiAn, as ‘Rest’ was, this effort fuses new music with a live take on that record’s standout single, Deadly Valentine, and a playful reimagining of Kanye West’s Runaway. Tacked on at the end, though, these two songs exemplify the EP’s main shortcoming: a lack of its own identity.

The former is a technically precise rendering of a wonderful song that eventually collapses into an instrumental happening. The latter is a cover that succeeds in stripping away the menace and meaning in one of West’s finest works, without coming close to replacing it with a similarly captivating energy.

The originals fare better in isolation but suffer from their proximity to ‘Rest’. All three—including the Bond theme-adjacent Bombs Away, a co-write with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig—play to Gainsbourg’s strengths without trying to spring any surprises.

Indeed, the opening song, Such A Remarkable Day, shares so much DNA with its parent-album-of-sorts that it feels like an exercise in staying in the moment for as long as possible lest the magic disappear.

Given the lyrical and compositional power of ‘Rest’, this is an understandable creative decision and doubtless a welcome one in some quarters. But Gainsbourg, whether behind the microphone or projected 20 feet tall across a cinema screen, has always been capable of reinvention without losing her essence as a performer. Perhaps, for the sake of clarity, this EP’s title should be viewed in its most literal sense.

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