EP review: Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Take 5

Daughter to Jane Birkin and the late Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg steps back from her acting career to deliver the dramatically seductive 5-track EP Take 5, a ghostly imitation of 2017’s Rest.

In conversation with The Guardian Gainsbourg expresses the difficulty faced in making music after her father’s death, as she “couldn’t imagine doing it without [him].” Despite this, his legacy continues to live on through her music. Echoing his sultry tones and seductive nuances in Take 5’s ‘Lost Lenore’ and his later, more experimental reggae period in the funk undertones of ‘Bombs Away.’

Simultaneously, Gainsbourg subverts the legacy of her late father in Take 5’s self-evident R&B influences. The most explicit sense of this is found in her rather outré cover of Kanye West’s ‘Runaway.’ While the song opens softly, promising a unique interpretation of West’s powerfully intimate original, this is undeniably ruined by intrigue of its genre subversion, especially in her rendition the original track’s third verse. Whispering: “I was never much of a romantic…” she eerily interrupts her sultry repetition of the chorus, causing an initially promising track to find itself scathed in awkwardness.

The rest of the EP however, delights in its intricate ability to combine soft vocals with heavier pop trends.

‘Such a Remarkable Day’ delves into the psychedelia of moreish 80s-pop, audibly spiralling over simplistic lyrics. While ‘Bombs Away’ gives the sense of a tepid disco: you find yourself bouncing along, but taken aback by the layers of political, biblical and historical references. ‘Lost Lenore’ is arguably the apex of the EP: dramatically seductive, it submerges the listener into a sense of the sublime.

The EP concludes with a live recording of ‘Deadly Valentine.’ Despite its mysterious title, the track falls short in its lyrical imagination, as it narrates the typical marriage procession. It succeeds however, in displaying how effortlessly and faultlessly Gainsbourg performs live.

Where Gainsbourg suffers in her ‘Runaway’ cover, she otherwise climaxes in her lyrical origniality. Few contempory artists succeed in challenging the boudaries of today’s pop-genre, but Charlotte Gainsbourg, revelling in the legacy of her late father, is an undoubted exception of this. Falling short of perfection, this EP is sweetly experimental, and the perfect introduction to French pop.

 

Image: Amy Hope Dermont via flickr

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