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Christine and the Queens - Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) (Album Review)

Monday, 21 November 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

For his third full album the French performance artist known at various times as Chris and Christine and the Queens has created a new persona: the titular ‘Redcar’. The album, sung from Redcar’s perspective, picks up much of the pop melancholy of the singer’s first two albums while honing art-pop tropes successfully deployed on his most recent release: the 2020 EP, ‘La Vita Nuova’. The result is a bit of a mess, lacking focus in songwriting and structure, but which nonetheless contains flashes of the brilliant artist lurking within.

A good example of this is Combien de temps, an eight minute slow-jam that lands somewhere between the cabaret rock of Roxy Music and the sleazy chansons of Serge Gainsbourg. Like much of the album, the subject matter is romantic melancholy, with Redcar treading a thin line between societal satire and individual ennui, but it doesn’t quite have enough going on to justify its run time. When you learn that this album was recorded in just two weeks—very much an artistic choice—another phrase comes to mind when considering the song: undercooked.

When the record is good, it does approach the heady heights of earlier work. Je te vois enfin is a memorable, smashy pop track that makes terrific use of Redcar’s layered vocals and atmospheric synths.

Similarly, the opener Ma bien aimée bye-bye has many of the languorous features of Combien de temps but is far more successful in executing its plan.

This track’s melodies once again closely resemble Roxy Music, but actually more the ensuing 1980s solo career of vocalist Bryan Ferry, with the rhythm section from Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ apparently duking it out in the background.

Here, lyrical messaging becomes secondary to a general ambience and feel. It’s a hugely rewarding sound but hard to pull off, and this is demonstrated in the following track Tu sais se qu’il me faut, which unfortunately sounds pretty parochial and generally half-arsed in comparison.

Changing pop personas is an incredibly rich way of exploring one's own creative instincts, and an extremely diverse hunting ground for gathering influences and repackaging them as your own. Despite this, ‘Redcar les adorables étoiles’ is quite a confused and flabby album, and one that does not live long in the memory, certainly compared to other releases by Christine and the Queens. 

Christine and the Queens Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue November 22 2022 - LONDON Royal Festival Hall

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