Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ben Greenman on Charlotte Gainsbourg

"The singer and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, who most recently starred in Lars von Trier’s 'Antichrist,' is the daughter of the French pop icon Serge Gainsbourg, who died in 1991. Serge masterminded Charlotte’s first album, 'Charlotte for Ever' (also titled 'Lemon Incest'), when she was a teen-ager; the intense, sometimes explicit songs were extremely controversial. On 'IRM' (Elektra), Gainsbourg puts herself in the hands of another man — Beck, who produced the record, wrote or co-wrote all its songs, and furnishes backing vocals. Despite this, the record presents itself as a personal statement; the title, the French term for MRI, recalls the brain hemorrhage that Gainsbourg suffered in 2007 after a waterskiing accident. Most of 'IRM' is quirky pop with electronic accents, sometimes effectively eerie (the opener, 'Master’s Hands,' circles around questions of gender, control, and illness), sometimes effectively comic ('Me and Jane Doe'), and sometimes frustratingly Beck-like (the cool, surreal 'Greenwich Mean Time,' which is, ironically, the only song that Charlotte co-wrote)" ("Pop Notes: Heart and Head," New Yorker, 2/1/10, p. 10).


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