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Review: Gainsbourg's 4th album brings retro back

Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Stage Whisper" (Because Music / Elektra Records)
/ Source: The Associated Press

Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Stage Whisper" (Because Music / Elektra Records)

No one can deny that Charlotte Gainsbourg is an interesting artistic presence in whatever creative endeavor she has going. The French artist has found time between being a fashion muse and shooting a range of quirky films to record some quirky music. She first gave the music thing a go by dueting with her father, Serge, in 1984 on a song called "Lemon Incest" and he produced her first album two years later. After a twenty-year break, Gainsbourg launched "5:55," a melancholy pop album, to critical success.

Her fourth album, "Stage Whisper," mixing seven unreleased studio recordings, some from her work with Beck on her third album "IRM" and eleven songs from her live performance on tour, is a somewhat flawed enterprise. Doubtless the album will get her alternative scene street cred, but that won't erase the fact that some of the songs are mismatched to her whispery voice. The fact is particularly clear on the "Got to Let Go" collaboration with Charlie Fink, where Gallic '80s synth accompanies their wails about "a deadly revolver held to your head." A bit like this song.

Not to say that the eclecto-electro lineup is without charm. Gainsbourg shows that she can be a chameleon when it comes to music too, channeling Alison Goldfrapp successfully on "Terrible Angles" — a track reminiscent of "Train" but tinged with the despair of a floundering human being. She also does a good mix of Bjork and Kate Bush in "Set Yourself On Fire," a psychedelic trip into the '70s. "White Telephone" is like a lyre voyage to a misty vampire den where Gainsbourg's singing acts as a hypnotizer for the unsuspecting victim.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Paradisco" — it's boogie time for generation Y. "In paradiscos/We'll make a million out of zeros/Split an apple with an arrow/

Play the violin like Nero." Sounds about right.