Sunday, December 10, 2006

I'm Gonna Get Under Your Skin

Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55 was released at the end of August this year. I scored a copy a couple of months ago, and have not stopped listening to it yet. If I was in the habit of making a year end "best of" list, I reckon this would be a candidate for the top 5, maybe even the top 3. Here's a quick breakdown for you. The music on the album is written and played by Air and produced by Nigel Godrich. The string arrangements are by Beck's dad, David Campbell. The drums are played by Tony Allen, one time drummer for Fela Kuti, now in Damon Albarn's The Good The Bad & The Queen. Oh yeah, and Brian Eno called him one of the best musicians on the planet. Lyrics are also collaborative, with Charlotte and the Air boys joined by the witty, sharp pens of Jarvis Cocker and The Divine Comedy's Neal Hannon. The end result is pretty spectacular. The music is Air at their best, lush and moody, a cool blend of electronics and organic instrumentation. There are echoes of her famous dad in some of the bass lines and strings. Charlotte coos in a seductive and breathy style not too terribly far from her mum, Jane Birkin, and it fits the songs very well. She also occasionally cops her dad's style of half speaking lyrics. The Operation is one of the few uptempo tracks and features a driving beat, lots of sinewy, intertwining guitar riffs and fab piano. The lyrics are deliciously creepy, mixing love and surgery metaphors. The second single from the album is The Song That We Sing. Full of gorgeous, swelling strings, chunky bass and lush melodies accented by chime-y bells, this tune grabbed me right away. A really gorgeous album.

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