As a undertaking, Christine and the Queens has all the time been dedicated to the complexity of identification. Even with out delving into the conceptual framework of every particular person launch, it’s inconceivable to not be struck by the singular voice at its heart, its grace and kineticism conveying each wealthy emotional depth and excessive ambitions – qualities that the majority pop stars battle to reconcile. Starting with 2014’s Chaleur Humaine, they provided an interrogation of gender that was uncommon in its mixture of vulnerability and confidence. The extra consideration it garnered, particularly with its introduction to the American market, the more durable the artist peered into the dynamics of intercourse and energy which might be at play once you’re within the public eye – and so Chris was born as one other dazzling gesture within the journey of self-definition. When your final EP has been described as an “odyssey” – albeit one which discovered success in one of the enduring pandemic-era songs – and is virtually inseparable from its accompanying narrative brief movie, expectations for the following full-length are already excessive.
Launched below the brand new alias Redcar, Redcar et les adorables étoiles (prologue) is appropriately daring and theatrical. As a lot because it alerts one other transformation for the artist, the album presents itself as the following act, a continuation within the undertaking of changing into slightly than a completely new endeavor. Whereas Christine and the Queens opened with an assertive but ambivalent introduction (“I’m a person now”), the primary music on Redcar, ‘Ma bien aimée bye-bye’, begins with a separation that appears to blur into desires (“My beloved bye-bye/ You’re my spouse ‘til I die,” Chris echoes). To construct the remainder of the story, he makes use of the identical palette that made the earlier albums so arresting: pop music that’s radiant, experimental, and grandiose, with a robust tinge of the ’80s and an undercurrent of fixed craving. The expressive vary of his voice leads the best way, backed by synths which might be eerie of their aliveness – typically delicate, typically explosive. It seems in its most accessible and common kind on ‘On the lookout for love’, clearly the standout so far as euphoric, danceable pop goes. But it surely doesn’t take a lot of a discerning eye to see that it takes him in a number of totally different instructions.
At first look, it looks as if the results of stretching this method as far out as potential, utilizing fantasy and drama to inform a celestially sure story of affection. What retains it partaking, at the least for these not fluent in French, isn’t a lot the melodic or poetic foundations of every music – although there are ones that resonate greater than others – however the emotional fluctuations that permeate them, and the steadiness that Chris achieves all through. The dreamy wistfulness of ‘Ma bien aimée bye-bye’ is damaged by the vigorous ‘Tu sais ce qu’il me faut’, the place obsessive lust reverberates via the gaze and fantasy slightly than the physique; even when he sings of dreaming of the opposite particular person, looming synths and propulsive percussion anchor the music within the bodily realm. The impatience fades on the strikingly delicate ‘Rien dire’, the place the burden of distance evokes a young ode to the profound endurance of affection. Although a single, it’s extra of a mild exhale than a pivotal second on the album, and it’s juxtaposed with the imposing and referential ‘La clairefontaine’.
Chris avoids oscillating between the extremes of irrepressible need and affected person love, teasing out a grander, extra nuanced narrative about looking for which means. That perspective-shifting second arrives on ‘Les étoiles’, the place the character appears to wildly attain out into the cosmos, as does the instrumentation round him – all flickering lights, synth stabs, increasing atmosphere. You may sense that no matter enlightenment this encounter brings comes with a touch of delusion: “I come from the heavens/ The celebrities communicate to me, mom.” However the clear centerpiece is ‘Combien de temps’, which sprawls throughout eight and a half minutes which might be in all probability sufficient to earn Redcar the title of Chris’ most “difficult” undertaking but. But it’s not an odyssey a lot as a slow-burner, one which builds anticipation via a easy pop-funk groove that offers area to Redcar’s heightened monologue, portray himself like a god-like determine craving earthly delights (“I’ve a coronary heart as massive as my conscience/ That goes via ages, via impatience”).
There’s not a lot of a launch after ‘Combien de temps’, and the album sadly plateaus as soon as it’s over. It’s billed as a prologue, so maybe future installments will carry a extra satisfying conclusion, however because it stands, and purely from a musical standpoint, Redcar feels barely overlong and amorphous with no clear objective. But it surely’s nonetheless thrilling to listen to Chris testing these waters and questioning what lies on the opposite aspect, and even when it’s an uphill climb, he’s greater than keen to cease for pleasure. The sunshine, he continues to counsel, is price pursuing – and why? As lengthy you could have somebody to stroll there with you, it by no means shines the identical.