Sunday, 21 February 2010

Album Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM

Dramatic, cinematic, lush and delicate; Charlotte Gainsbourg's latest album IRM is a bit of a revelation to Helen Of Troy who, rather ashamedly, have come rather late to Ms Gainsbourg's party, having dwelt too long at her father's legendary sleaze-fests. Released in the UK tomorrow (Mon Feb 25) and co-written and recorded with Beck, this 14-track album is a varied but unfalteringly classy affair.

Sparse and bluesy title track IRM is built around the sample of the sound of an MRI (IRM in French) scan, inspired by treatment she received for a cerebral haemorrhage in 2007. The more you listen to IRM the more unsettlingly brilliant the sample becomes and, combined with lyrics about traumas, bandages and x-rays, quickly becomes one of the most menacingly catchy songs about hospitalisation Helen Of Troy... has ever heard (not the most hotly contested title, granted!).

Alongside the hospital-themed high-tech trickery of the title track is a collection of beautiful whispering folk, blues and cabaret which, in this case, is no bad thing.

Sometimes it's obvious who Charlotte and Beck have been listening to - Le Chat du Cafe des Artistes is Serge-esque, evoking the grimy glamour of 1960s Parisian back-streets, Me And Jane Doe sounds like a Moe Tucker Velvet Underground track and Dandelion is could easily be pre-glam T-Rex.

Though IRM wears its influences without shame, its influences are varied enough to lift it from pastiche and Charlotte's hauntingly beautiful vocals tie each song on IRM together into a classy, coherent whole.
Have a listen on Spotify here.


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