Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55 (2023 Re-Issue 2LP Vinyl)
Even though 5:55 isn't technically Charlotte Gainsbourg's first solo album (that would be Charlotte for Ever, which was released [in 1986] when she was 13), it is her first solo album as an adult and, with the help of a dream team of collaborators, it's a fittingly sophisticated set that touches on her father Serge's brilliantly louche, literate pop without being overshadowed by it. Air's Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin (who paid tribute to Serge Gainsbourg particularly well on 10,000 Hz Legend's 'Wonder Milky Bitch') wrote 5:55's delicate music, while Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon penned it's lyrics. This mingling of French and English influences is mirrored in Gainsbourg's subtly expressive voice and accent, which provides the perfect complement to the album's lush sounds and vivid imagery. On 'AF607105' - the most Air-like song here - she's a stewardess recounting the most glamorous plane crash ever; she performs an autopsy on a relationship on 'The Operation,' finally stating that 'the heart was rejected by the host.' As good as the atmospheric heartache of the first half of 5:55 is, it's on the second half, when Gainsbourg and her crew stretch out a bit, that the album really gets interesting. 'Jamais,' a slightly tough, witty cautionary tale about literally acting like you're in love, is a standout, while the sexy, obsessive 'Beauty Mark' and 'Everything I Cannot See' would make her father proud.
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