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CHRIS­TINE AND THE QUEENS — CHRIS

One of the most ex­cit­ing mu­si­cians on the Euro pop scene, French muso Chris­tine and the Queens (real name Héloïse Letissier) re­turns with a fol­low-up to 2014’s mag­nif­i­cent ful­l­length de­but Chaleur Hu­maine.

While Letissier had a touch of an­drog­yny in her Hu­maine days, this time she gives out­dated ideas about gen­der a hard kick in the groin as she in­tro­duces us to her al­ter ego’s gen­der-bend­ing al­ter ego, Chris. (Chris­tine is al­ready her al­ter-ego, Chris is the al­ter’s al­ter).

She’s cut her pre­vi­ously shoul­der­length hair much shorter, she dresses like Street­car Brando mixed with a mata­dor, she’s singing about sex (both gen­der and shag­ging) and sex­u­al­ity (both ori­en­ta­tion and plea­sure).

Letissier says to the Guardian:

"I’m play­ing around with the male gaze and con­fus­ing het­ero­sex­ual dudes who say stuff [about how I look] like: ‘I’m ex­cited ... but I’m an­gry!’ I love the scam of a ma­cho man. I wrote this record be­cause I wanted to ad­dress the taboo of a woman be­ing blunt and for­ward.”

Yes, yes, but what about the tunes? They’re mostly catchy, the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity are pretty darn good and they are more in­flu­enced by ’90s Michael Jack­son (and even Janet) than Françoise Hardy or any French chanteuse.

There isn’t a sin­gle mood that dom­i­nates the al­bum: some tracks are bold, oth­ers muted (not bor­ing), some­times she doesn’t give a f**k, other times she’s inse­cure, one mo­ment she’s singing about sleep­ing with ev­ery­one, the next she’s in­dulging her sui­ci­dal thoughts ...

At 23 tracks, Chris is twice the length of its pre­de­ces­sor — Letissier has no in­ter­est in fol­low­ing the seven-track al­bum trend of this year. Some of the tracks are sim­ply French ver­sions of the English tracks, but some of it feels un­nec­es­sary.

As she tells Ap­ple Mu­sic: “Pop mu­sic is so much re­cently about try­ing to sim­plify nar­ra­tives, and I was try­ing to com­plex­ify mine.”

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