Christine and the Queens

Chris

Because Music

Oct 03, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


After her surprise breakthrough in 2016, Chaleur Humaine, Christine and the Queens auteur Héloïse Letissier witnessed for herself the inner workings of the music industry and suffice to say she didn't like everything that she saw. Her success exposed the institutional misogyny and Letissier is not about to let it drift by unmentioned. With her second album, she was in the perfect position to go for a full-fledged old-fashioned sell-out, but instead what we have is a doubling down on her commitment to blast an electrifying trail through the fading heart of popular music.

At least, that was the aim. To some extent she is successful, too, with a sparkling gauntlet of hits-to-be frontloading the record. But more striking is the shift in Letissier's character. "Being a woman in power made me think about how disruptive I could be," she has recently said, and it flows through every second of this album. The eponymous Chris is Letissier's new manifestation, unapologetically explicit and horny, unembarrassed by any aspect of her sexuality, something that she has recognized is all too rare for female entertainers. This is dealt with most primal-ly on "Damn (What Must a Woman Do)," raw and unforgiving of the sins she has come to know all too well. She barely compresses her anger into the streamline, wiry funk outline of the track, enticing the listener too to dance out their patriarchy-inspired anger.

There is certainly plenty of dancing to do to Chris. "Girlfriend," with Dâm-Funk is a towering single, a slinking R&B jewel in the Prince and Janet Jackson tradition of glossed synth-friendly production, grooving in the luxuriant spaces between planes of synth, bass, and drums. "Doesn't Matter" is built around a clattering, reverb-laden synth beat, with Letissier dialling up the sass-meter, whilst "5 Dollars" glories most of all in the retrospection, Letissier's vocals echoing like Siouxsie Sioux, backed by an empty warehouse drum sound. The niggling melody of "Goya Soda" is the sleeper track, a chorus that drifts into your subconscious, ably assisted by a big bouncing space-hopper bassline.

The album spills over with Letissier's confidence and individuality, something she felt wasn't the case during early writing sessions with Mark Ronson and Damon Albarn, so they were cast aside. This is the voice of a major emerging artist in mainstream music and one that has a fiercely strong sense of control over where she is heading. Years of craft and learning have led to Chris, the latest jolt of electricity that pop music needs on a regular basis to stay young. (www.christineandthequeens.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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