wed 19/06/2024

Album: Christine and the Queens - PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Christine and the Queens - PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE

Album: Christine and the Queens - PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE

French star's new one is a concept piece, featuring Madonna, that's overlong but sometimes persuasive

Cover art by veteran fashion photographer Paolo Roversi

Tony Kushner’s early 1990s play Angels in America is an epochal, mystical, political, state-of-the-nation address, revolving around the AIDs epidemic.

By no means straightforward, its narrative runs the gamut from New York’s gay scene to God’s own sexual proclivities, via the ghost of executed Cold War spy Ethel Rosenberg, the fall of the Soviet Bloc and much else. At over three-and-a-half-hours long, it’s not for the fainthearted. Neither is the new concept album from Christine and the Queens, which is inspired by it.

Described by its creator as “the second part of an operatic gesture that also encompassed 2022’s [album] Redcar les adorables étoiles”, it’s co-produced by Mike Dean, who’s best-known for his work with Lana del Rey and Beyoncé. The pace is stately, the vibe semi-ecclesiastical, much chorale grandiosity. It’s an opulent electronic odyssey seeking spiritual-sexual fulfilment, the Kushner-esque allegory of the angel never far away. The feel of the album is, perhaps, best summed up by the lines “I fucked him and then I got off/Satisfaction but it’s never enough/Would you lay down next to me and pray,” from “I Feel Like an Angel”.

It’s also well over an hour-and-a-half long. The tone is serious, not playful, and the sonic palette epic and sombre, so it’s one of those albums that I suspect devoted fans and those who really spend time getting under the hood of it, will draw sustenance from. Christine and the Queens is, after all, rightly regarded as a groundbreaking pansexual star, his imaginative approach to popular music reflecting his own internal conflicts through a crafted theatrical delivery.

Despite such magisterial vision, I wasn’t won over. That’s not to say there aren’t persuasive songs along the way - the dreamy “Flowery Days”, the vast Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major-based choral epic “Full of Life”, the sparse slowie "A Day in the Water", the breathy breakbeat crunch of “Let Me Touch You Once” and the glitchy electro-pop of “True Love”, the latter pair featuring US MC 070 Shake. Indeed, adding to the sense of occasion, there are even three songs peripherally featuring Madonna. But, I’m going with a classic first-draft-of-history music journo summation: I’d have enjoyed it more if it had been given a ruthless edit. The short version: by the end I’d more than had-enough.

Below: Watch a Vevo Studio performance of "A Day in the Water" by Christine and the Queens

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