Release Date: Jan 26, 2010
Record label: Elektra/Because
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
Yearnings, indeed. On “Me and Jane Doe”, Gainsbourg promises us that, “If I had my way I’d cross the desert to the sea/Learn to speak in tongues/Something that makes sense to you and to me.” It’s funny and sweet that she thinks such a trifling thing as “sense” matters to our relationship with her. Moi, if I could be stripped bare of all rhyme, reason, logic and especially sense, would still be consummately comforted to know that Mlle.
Who could have expected Charlotte Gainsbourg to follow up the genital mutilation of Antichrist with a collection of catchy baroque pop songs that—at times—rivals the work of her father, Serge? Well, Beck for one thing. The sea changing musician wrote the music, co-wrote the lyrics, produced, and mixed IRM, Gainsbourg’s third album. His impress is all over the music, sounding sometimes like a more focused Odelay, sometimes like a sweeter Mutations.
Before summer 2007, Charlotte Gainsbourg was best known as the daughter of gallic godhead Serge Gainsbourg, a curiously magnetic actress with a diverse CV (romantic comedies, dark dramas, period pieces), and a part-time singer still working in the shadow of a mildly pedophilic 1984 duet recorded with her father called "Lemon Incest". Then Charlotte Gainsbourg nearly died. Weeks after a minor water skiing accident, she went to the doctor with headaches only to learn her hemorrhaged head was filled with blood.
Faced with Charlotte Gainsbourg's second grown-up album, one's impulse is to scrutinise it for clues to her personality. Initially, though, she seems curiously distanced, as if acting the role of a singer in a film. She shares the credit for just one song; primarily, the scattershot sounds and surrealistic lyrics are typical of her songwriter and producer, Beck, who renders his muse more mysterious by burying her gossamer voice comparatively low in the mix.
A lot happened to Charlotte Gainsbourg between the release of 5:55 and IRM. Along with appearing in I'm Not There as one of Bob Dylan's wives, a 2007 water skiing accident pushed her brain to the side and filled her skull with blood, a condition that should have killed or paralyzed her. After emergency surgery, Gainsbourg was fine physically, but still convinced she could die at any moment, undergoing several MRI scans to prove she was all right.
Okay, so imagine you’re Beck, armed with prodigious musical talent and some dubious beliefs regarding thetans. You’ve agreed to write, arrange and produce a new album for Charlotte Gainsbourg, primarily because you really loved those old records her dad put out. I mean, ‘Paper Tiger’ on Sea Change was basically your homage to Serge’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, right? So you sit down with her to ask her what she wants this album of hers to sound like and she plays you this video: It ain’t her parents getting breathless on ‘Je t'aime...
Cementing her acting cred with a Cannes prize for her performance in Antichrist, Charlotte Gainsbourg makes another push at mirroring her father’s musical success on IRM, her major label debut. She certainly starts off on the right foot in terms of production quality by handing those duties to Beck, who also guests on lead single “Heaven Can Wait. ” IRM provides a rebound after 2007’s sketchy5:55, even if Gainsbourg’s personality—a mix of both her father’s famously Gallic loucheness and her mother’s classic bearing—still stands as a little too willowy and insubstantial to fully support the material.
You may know her as Serge’s little girl. Or perhaps you’re more familiar with her acting and have seen her in Antichrist… or The Science of Sleep… or Ma Femme Est Une Actrice. Or maybe to you she’s Jane Birkin’s daughter. Hey, possibly you only know her for her music and fell in love with her ethereal 2006 album, 5:55.
For most of us, being trapped inside the casket tunnel of an MRI tube, with its starkly ominous overtones of fleshly imperfection soundtracked by what sounds like an Einstürzende Neubauten bootleg, is, at best, an unnervingly intimate meet and greet with our own mortality. At worst, it's an elegantly orchestrated precursor to oblivion. For Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of louche icon Serge and gamine siren Jane Birkin, the series of MRIs ("imagerie par résonance magnétique" in French, hence the album title) that followed the actress/singer's near-fatal 2007 waterskiing accident resulted in her warmest, most life-affirming work yet.
One of 2010’s first great examples of accomplished, adult pop. Daryl Easlea 2010 Between this, her third album, and 2006’s 5:55, Charlotte Gainsbourg – actress, singer and French icon – suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. IRM (the French for MRI) is exactly the sort of record an artist who has endured a life-threatening condition should make: deeply reflective yet questioningly optimistic.
Charlotte Gainsbourg has collaborated with other artists on all her albums and she knows how to pick ‘em, whether it’s her father, Serge Gainsbourg, on her debut album as a young girl or 2007’s 5:55 with musical compositions by the duo Air and lyrics co-penned by Jarvis Cocker. On her latest release (already out in France and other countries and due on January 26th in the U. S.