Christine and the Queens – Redcar les adorables étoiles

Synth-pop that commits itself to freedom...

Welcome, Redcar. Adieu, Chris. The journey of Christine and the Queens has overcome all manner of hurdles and barricades, but this latest statement finds the French artist at a pivotal point in his life. Losing his mother, a TikTok video then revealed he was gendering himself in the masculine. Re-positioning himself as Redcar, the work that has emerged from this period has an experimental feel, sometimes playful and at others pointed, while always feeling transitional, as though Redcar is testing out fresh ground for the very first time.

Yet the vivid pop flourishes that illuminated those stellar studio albums remains intact. His first in-depth document since the 2020 EP ‘La vita nuova’, this new album dials back the gloss for something more human, and at times almost DIY. ‘Ma bien aimee bye bye’ is an enchanting opener, the funky drums underpinning glacial synths and that aching vocal. Like a Cameo deep cut left to decay in the undergrowth, the fudgy, raw sound contains a hidden melodrama.

‘Tu sais ce qu’il me faut’ has a kind of cold wave flavour to it, a song that feels damaged and bruised. Charging head-long into the future, its contrasted by the icy stillness of ‘rien dire’, for example, which further illustrates Redcar’s devastating vocal technique.

While the demo-like feel of these alt-pop sketches can sometimes suit the songs, sometimes you yearn to hear them fleshed out. ‘Looking for love’ for example could easily be amplified into something chrome-plated and glittering, while ‘’Combien de temps’ could withstand a more muscular approach.

But perhaps that’s choosing to review what the record isn’t, rather than what has actually made the final cut. Songwriting such as the devastating ‘la chanson du chevalier’ can scarcely be doubted, while the rough tracings that permeate the arrangements give ‘Redcar les adorables étoiles’ a singular, hugely idiosyncratic feel. An easy record to enjoy, but a difficult one to fully evaluate, it presents an artist pursuing  vital sense of personal and aesthetic freedom.


Words: Robin Murray

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