Release Date: Jan 20, 2017
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
"While Rereading Your Letter" (En Relisant Ta Lettre) was recorded by Gainsbourg, but it was a chanson cabaret hit for Barbara in 1969. Here it's delivered with a shimmering cinematic intro. As Harvey narrates, Brous offers a wonderfully reedy, off-kilter take on Barbara's melody. The delirious string trio and celeste create an almost nightmarish counter-texture.
20 years on from the release of Intoxicated Man, Mick Harvey winds up his intermittent Serge Gainsbourg covers project with a collection largely focusing on songs Gainsbourg wrote for women. Perhaps the third volume, Delirium Tremens, led the way, containing as it did a selection of songs from the TV special Anna, whose originals – recorded with Anna Karina – remain perfectly sun-kissed pop. On Intoxicated Women, Harvey takes in sardonic yé-yé, Swinging 60s kitsch and no small dose of ennui.
In the 36 years since Serge Gainsbourg died, his reputation has changed. He’s gone from drunk has-been and chat show letch to musical pioneer and now is considered, by some, as possibly the last great French musical icon, Dark Punk notwithstanding. But the way he should be remembered is of a musician and songwriter of prodigious talent, who was always trying to push not only his musical landscape, but himself too.
Although many had actively willed Mick Harvey to deliver more of his masterful Serge Gainsbourg songbook makeovers after 1995’s Intoxicated Man and 1997’s Pink Elephants proved to be so illuminating and enduring, perhaps few of us really expected another volume in the acclaimed series, let alone two, twenty or so years on. Although the risk of giving devotees a little too much of what they wanted surrounded last year’s Delirium Tremens sequel, for the most part Harvey succeeded in furnishing followers with further crafted English-language remouldings with fresh twists and clever turns. The question is then; can Harvey pull it off yet again on this fourth and more multi-headed set? Exploring more of Gainsbourg’s wider repertoire which – like Lee Hazlewood – extended beyond genre-hopping solo records and iconic illustrious duets, into film soundtracks, TV shows, one-off collaborations and songs-to-order for a raft of popstrels, Intoxicated Women doesn’t resort to discography barrel-scraping.