Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Sunday 29 January 2023

Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg: IRM


Share This Article:

It's difficult to anticipate an album's design when the daughter of an English Rose and Parisian love rat commissions a prodigious American purveyor of goofball funk to write music for her. charlotte gainsbourg

So IRM, the collaboration of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck is, initially, a confounding one.

On cursory inspection, IRM plays like an out and out Beck record, albeit bleaker, more isolated and with Gainsbourg's wispy vocals draped in place of Beck's blocky rapping. Considering Beck took all songwriting and lyrical duties this is understandable, but with further scrutiny, the frequently quieting sternness suggests Gainsbourg anchored his hand in more remote territory.

In the most apparent assertion of her influence, the title track features the cold buzzing of an MRI scanner (inspired by Gainsbourg's experiences following recent head trauma) alongside a throbbing bass line typical of Beck. Though other examples are less overt, they are numerous: the restraint of the harp and murmurings of 'Vanities'; the French poem 'L'Adieu' recited to close the album. The two songs ('Trick Pony' and 'Greenwich Mean Time') most congruous with Beck's off-kilter back catalogue are actually the sorest detractors from an otherwise innately calm work.

Unsurprisingly then, IRM resembles Beck's sombre past work, Sea Change. The cover 'Le Chat Du Cafe Des Artistes' could be inconspicuously twinned with Sea Change's 'Paper Tiger' (which is itself heavily indebted to Gainsbourg Senior).

In fact, with its slight, continental charm, IRM is superior to Sea Change. Gainsbourg's hauntingly reserved whisper is a better match for Beck's low-key approach than his own voice, which approaches a monotonous croon on his own slower songs. And whilst Beck's production and instrumentation are always meticulous and lavish, they have never sounded this fragile or intimate.

Questions of accreditation aren't necessary, as Gainsbourg didn't hire Beck as a ghost-writer. IRM sounds like an artisan trying to convey the shy subconscious of his chanteuse, each song seemingly based on some fascinating idea plucked from the fog of an elusive persona. If Beck needs to piece together fragments of Gainsbourg's thoughts to produce some of his best work, we're better off for the collaboration.

Articles: 29
Reads: 196994
© 2023 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974