So… you remember on the Decibel Boost Podcast where we talk about that one Charli XCX track “New Shapes” which I recall liking a lot? I liked it so much, I decided to look over each artist that contributed to it from Charli herself to Caroline Polachek’s sophomore album earlier this year. and now we’re at another artist that I’ve recently become fond of: Christine and the Queens.
No, they are not a band but a one-man act under the name Héloïse Letissier, but he’s gone under different aliases, such as Chris (that also being the title of his 2nd album) and later on Redcar with his third album Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue). That album is the one that got me into his music with tracks like “La chanson du chevalier,” “La clairefontaine,” and “My Birdman” among others. Having gone back to albums like Chris, some aspects I like of their work is that it has that new wave synth-pop with a slight dark edge that I can dig, and some of their softer moments can be as satisfying.
The rollout for this album is a bit different as Paranoia, Angels, True Love, is split into 3 parts, clocking in at 97 minutes. It is also the second, third and fourth parts of a series with the character Redcar following the aforementioned album, and since this is a multi-disc album, I’m going to cover this album in parts.
Part 1: PARANOIA
The album begins with the intro “Overture,” starting off like an opera which Chris has stated was inspired by Tony Kushner’s Angel in America, and it basically tells you what the album is going to be about. That leads us to “tears can be so soft” which is about… well tears and how he has them for his mother (who passed away in recent years), brother, friends, etc. And well, if you gotta cry and let out some tears, then do it. The song also capture some 90s trip-hop sounds, reminding me of early Massive Attack, and it also samples a Marvin Gaye track, “Feel My Love All Inside.”
“Marvin Descending” is a one-verse track that has Chris singing as, from what I can tell, either an angel of someone named Marvin or a vision of the person in the mind. The song does end with a killer outro with amazing drum production, and that’s followed by “A Day in The Water.” Again it has some trip-hop influence, albeit more low-key, and the vocalization of the track is fantastic. “Full of Life” is interesting as he’s singing to the key and sample of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
Someone, lonely, waiting for a time at some place where it makes sense
Lonely, fucking, touching, something
A life, a line, a light, and die
I let go of my pride, for whatever reason, I’m free (Fighting, fighting)
Full of life
I let go, dissolved into desires that were not made for me, oh (Ugly)
Oh, there’s a scar
Take my hand and forget that I am just another woman
Even though you see me, you’ll never let me be your boyfriend
But tell me lies (Tell me a lie)
The rippling synths of “Angels Crying in My Bed” adds a lot of that vogue style throughout and since I mentioned Vogue, oh look, the (first) appearance of Madonna in this project and in the end of the track, she does a spoken word in regards to the angels and seeing them, wondering and waking. “Track 10” is tricky since this is the seventh track of the album and yet this is 11 minutes long and the ending of the first part of this album. This has me floored with the production being so dynamic and right up my alley when it comes to avant-garde pop.
Part 2: ANGELS
We begin part 2 with another “Overture” which this time has a feature from the album’s co-producer Mike Dean, possibly him singing in this electronic, distorted voice. “He’s been shining for ever, your son” has Christine doing one of his best vocal performances in the album. Once again, I’m just floored with its drum production and how amazing it went along with everything. Yeah, the drums are a bit simple but it was executed so effortlessly. The piano-laden track of “Flowery Days” also has this simplicity going for it, but it is both simple and also elegant in a way. “I met an Angel” has Madonna returning but if you’re expecting her to have a big verse here, you’re gonna be disappointed as she only has the small interlude part in the middle. This whole section of the album has more to do with the theme of angels, seeing them, and even longing them.
Bismillah, I fell in love with the devil
Oh, where is she? Where is she when I try to call?
Teaching me waiting over feeding
She’s teaching me fear again
Open your heart, my love
Just try it once, my love
She’s in the trees, she’s in the sky
She’s in the singing stream
She’s in the cats’ and the dogs’ eyes
In the birds falling up from the trees
She’s on the hands of my best friend driving
Now for the two tracks that feature 070 Shake; first comes “True Love” (ha! Funny because we have a part 3 of that coming up) which was released as a single prior to the album. This one is all mostly about those feelings of love, emotion, and sex in a way. The way the lyrics go do have a double meaning to that… or maybe I’m reaching. The next track “Let me touch you once” definitely has sex on the mind and yes, you get some French in this song in case you missed him singing in French, and this is very much a bop. I can vibe with this track and the last song (of this part) also has him singing entirely in French in “Aimer, puis vivre.”
Part 3: TRUE LOVE
Part 3 begins with “Shine,” which has this slightly minimal and atmospheric sound. All I got to say for the production overall is it’s fantastic with this challenging and unique production all handled by Christine and Mike Dean, whom many know for doing hip-hop production since the ’90s for acts like Scarface (as well as a lot of artists on Rap-A-Lot Records during the ’90s), 2Pac, JAY Z, Travis Scott, Kanye West, and Beyonce among others. There’s some additional production from A.G. Cook on the track “Lick The Light Out” and once again, this features Madonna doing spoken word. “To Be Honest” is the first single we heard from the rollout and it’s one of the softer tracks on here, reminiscent of what Christine was doing around his first album, and while I’m more into his later work, it’s a nice balance from the extravagant work. This is part of the album where we’re seeing the light of what he’s doing through.
I get lost in my thoughts
And for hours of time
And it’s making me feel
Like I am not alone anymore
To be honest (To be honest)
I am trying to love
But I’m afraid to kill
And I never know when
When to search or stay still
So I fly
To be honest with you
Oh, and “We Have to Be Friends” was marginally good as well; capping things off with the last two tracks, “I Feel Like an Angel” and “Big Eye,” I don’t have too much to say about those two but they were fitting tracks to cap off the album.
I have to say that while Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) made me into a fan of Christine and the Queens, Paranoia, Angels, True Love made it official that I’m sticking with him. This was an incredible album from start to finish, from the impressive vocal work to the production, those continue to be some of the best highlights I heard from pop music today and how avant-garde it is in many ways. It fulfills all kinds of emotions and vibes from making you contemplate a lot of things to even having a dancing vibe to it, and music like this does it right. Replay value does vary if you play it by part and if I had to choose which part I dug the most, Paranoia is at top, then Angels & then True Love. Still, this is a fantastic record and another album of the year contender for me.
FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT! I’m not paranoid to say that I love this album and this is true. Also, angels might be behind you.
PARANOIA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE is on Because Music and it’s available on CD, vinyl, digital download and streaming services.