Charlotte Gainsbourg Rest Because Music
Better known for her roles in some of European cinema’s most controversial and phantasmagorical works, working with directors that include Michel Gondry and Lars von Trier – whose Nyphomaniac parts I and II saw her pushed to fleshy extremes – Charlotte Gainsbourg’s new album Rest is the artist’s first proper album since 2010. Rest, produced by French DJ SebastiAn, features collaborations with Daft Punk’s Guy Manuel de-Homem Christo, Paul McCartney, Owen Pallett and Connan Mockasin. Following the death of her sister Kate Barry in 2013, the record faces inward, depicting honest retellings of love, loss and death – all sung in Gainsbourg’s trademark whispery lilt.
In Lying With You, Gainsbourg remembers her father’s death, singing, ‘Your bare leg jutting out from the sheet / Without shame and in cold blood… My mouth is whispering in raptures / Celebrating you‘; while Deadly Valentine – whose music video featured Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes – sees Gainsbourg reciting wedding vows to the beat of an Italo Disco-esque bassline.
For someone whose surname alone is as quintessentially French as coffee and cigarettes, Rest is Gainsbourg’s first album since Charlotte for Ever – her 1986 debut album written by her father, Serge Gainsbourg – to be sung predominantly in French. It is something the singer has shied away from in previous records – her father’s legacy as one of France’s most eloquent singer-songwriters must, presumably, cast a large shadow.
Lyrically, the songs are simple – perhaps even simplistic – with many of the tracks drawing from popular nursery rhymes (Ring-A-Ring O’ Roses) or wedding-speak (Deadly Valentine). On first listen, it is hard not to make comparisons between father and daughter – Charlotte’s music can at times feel like a simulacrum of Serge. However, Rest is nothing if not truthful, and the album’s success lies in its ability to draw the reader in through its candid depictions of Gainsbourg’s ‘human, all too human’ experiences.