Yes, I’m late, but it’s worth it, I hope. This album is the first artist to land a second AOTM, and after the effect the first had on all of us, it seemed almost too obvious to revisit it when there’s so much other music around. However, it’s actually a choice that makes so much sense, because really, there’s a definitive break from the past, and perhaps the appearance of one of the most exciting pop music artists for a long while.
So, what did we learn from Christine And The Queens’ sparkling debut in 2016? An album that was a spring sleeper hit (two years after it surfaced in France), relaunched in a post-Brexit haze where we all needed some musical escapism. In my case, I was one of those wandering around in a teary, beery, existentialist haze at Glastonbury whose day was transformed by one of those ‘moments’ that makes the festival so magical. Christine And The Queens’ set on the Other Stage as the rain fell was one that’ll stay long in the memory. There’s no way a French artist complete with slickly choreographed dancers should’ve melted muddy hearts but Tilted, iT, Narcissus Is Back and Here were pop music of the absolute finest. Rubbery synths, crisp percussion, and beguiling vocals singing about love and loss that sounded as enticing in English as in French. A star was born. But… what next?
The answer, flippantly, would be ‘Chris’. But for Héloïse Letissier it was more than just a change of title. The relentless touring and punishing nightly dance moves had transformed her into a leaner being, and with her success came sexual conquests too, but not man or woman, more whichever took her fancy. Pansexuality, freedom and inspiration. Yet the sonic inspiration for Chris – ‘Christine’s androgynous, confident, male-world-view alter-ego – harks back to the 80s and 90s, where r’n’b was in a renaissance with Michael and Janet Jackson at the fore. You can almost hear the Jam and Lewis influence in tracks like Girlfriend and Doesn’t Matter. But it’s original, punchy hooks and oblique lyrical references that are all her own rather than borrowed from the past, as she explores pansexual conquests from the side of the male gaze.
The result is an album that feels it could only be made by a French artist, such is the ambition, and openly artistic musings that would be sniffed at in England. A staggeringly individual collection of songs where Letissier writes, performs and produces almost every single note, and that should fire her even higher into the pop firmament. Fantastique!
This is dead good. In fact all their stuff is. Check out Power Dance too. But then you’d expect that when it’s Luke Solomon, Nick Mauer (of Greenskeepers fame) and a certain Al Doyle amongst others.
Like Disco: like Powerdance.
New Shit Robot album incoming after 3 years, and it’s been worth the wait. I’m a big big fan, and after We Got A Love, which was bouncy, but a bit overproduced and ‘big’, this is a sharp turn 90 degrees. It’s apparently produced entirely on hardware and not massively reworked, but lots of live takes. It’s a much more ‘studio’ album, but sounds like proper dance music, and yet it’s still packed full of emotion.
This is the opening single, with frequent collaborator Alexis Taylor and it’s all pads and wistful lyrics. I love it. And the video isn’t bad either.
Oh look, Lonelady just quietly slipped out the best dance track of the year:
A bit obvious maybe, and not a huge rework, but jesus Ewan Pearson is so so good. I need this on vinyl and I need it now.