There’s a curious thing about French actresses that gives them the idea that along with their theatrical duties, they were born to sing. From Brigitte Bardot in the ‘60s and ‘70s to Marion Cotillard’s new duet with Franz Ferdinand, there seems to be a sense of entitlement among Gallic dramatists that they are fit to sing even if they’re not technically that good.
IRM, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s newest album, doesn’t particularly dispel that notion, but it’s also not a hideously bad effort. Gainsbourg is actually quite good – not a huge surprise, considering her father is Serge Gainsbourg, but still a welcome one considering it was released in a world that views Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Montag as worthy of CDs. She’s come a long way since her slightly pedophiliac duet with her father, 1984’s “Lemon Incest.”
Gainsbourg is, technically, not the greatest singer in the world, but her breathy, monotone voice is put to good use on IRM, on which Beck is a constant presence. The album was written after Gainsbourg suffered a life-threatening head injury and the content reflects her state of ennui. On the title track, she sings “Take a picture, what’s inside?/Ghost image in my mind” in a voice completely devoid of emotion.
The album’s best track is the French-language “Le Chat du Cafe des Artistes.” Gainsbourg is at her best when singing in her native French. Despite her lack of overwhelming vocal prowess, IRM is a beautiful effort with a wide emotional range.
Rating: 3/4 stars
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2010
Label: Because Music/Elektra
Produced By: Beck
Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.