Being a fan of Air, Jarvis Cocker, and The Divine Comedy led me to become excited about the new Charlotte Gainsbourg album that is currently only available as an import. After a few listens I was pleased, as Charlotte's breathy vocals mix perfectly with Nigel Godrich's wizardry production skills and the poetic lyricism from Cocker and Hannon. The kicker is that what makes 5:55 so great unfortunately also acts as the Achilles heel. At times Charlotte's meekness comes across as sleepy rather than sultry; making this album a home one, rather than one I find myself listening on repeat whilst at work.
The delicate "5:55" is a beautiful opener, and it sets the tone for the rest of the record. Here it really does sound like Air's music with Charlotte's vocals added on top. I'm not complaining, but part of me really wants to see Charlotte step up and own these songs as her own. Finally, on "Af607105" Charlotte gives us just that - a dark, slinky and sexy tune that puts not only her speaking skills, but also her singing, to use. The end result is Charlotte coming into her own.
There are some more upbeat tunes on 5:55, such as one of the first UK singles, "The Songs That We Sing," which also happens to be one of the best tracks on the record. The same goes for "The Operation," where Charlotte speaks/sings about going deep within a love's entrails, and their love going under the knife only to end up with the heart being rejected by the host. Vivid imagery, no? Then there is the mid-tempo "Night-Time Intermission," where the constant use of strings (arranged by David Campbell, Beck's father) with drums, instantly reminds me 4Hero.
Overall 5:55 is a noble effort, and it is nice to see Charlotte come out from under her father's shadow a little bit. In due time, she has the potential to be a chanteuse that goes down in history.
Video for "5:55"