Charlotte Gainsbourg - Irm
Like most people, we were more than merely intrigued when we found out several months ago that French singer/actor Charlotte Gainsbourg would be collaborating with the eclectic Beck on her new album. That album, IRM, finally comes out on January 26th and the question we all want answered is, how much of this album is Gainsbourg and how much is Beck?
Not only did Beck produce the record, but he also co-wrote many of the songs and is responsible for a big chunk of the arrangements. He even shares vocals with Gainsbourg at times, most notably a duet on "Heaven Can't Wait", the most Beck-like track on the album.
The American musician's presence is felt mostly on the arrangements side of the ledger. Songs like "Master's Hand" with its quirky percussion, and "Trick Pony" which boasts a fuzzy bassline and lo-fi tweaks aplenty, are the most obvious examples. But with the exception of "Greenwich Mean Time", a track filled with funky electro snippets, it never feels like Gainsbourg is merely singing Beck songs.
In the face of a musical heavyweight, Gainsbourg proves she can more than hold her own. A French cinema aura surrounds a track like "Le Chat Dy Cafe Des Artistes" and the laid back sunny stroll of "Dandelion".
When the duo venture into the realm of dream pop things do go a bit awry. Though Gainsbourg possesses the vocal abilities of a French Hope Sandoval, it rarely works in the context of the album. "In the End" is undeniably elegant both it and "Vanities" lack inspiration.
IRM is at it's best when Gainsbourg and Beck find a balance. Fortunately, on songs like "Me and Jane Doe" and the monumental finale "La Collectioneuse" they do that often enough to prove a formidable artistic pairing.
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