By Andrew Breazeale, Contributor
[Because Music; 2018]
Key Tracks: “5 dollars”, “What’s-her-face”, “Feel so good”
French native Héloïse Letissier, better known as Christine and the Queens, is back with an introspective sophomore album. After having to re-release her 2014 debut album Chaleur humaine in English as Christine and the Queens, Letissier saved herself the trouble by releasing both French and English versions of her new album Chris. The duality of the artist and the album are themes carried throughout the work — a deeply personal and complex look into the life of a French funk queen.
Born from the acceptance of her identity and the creation of her persona, Letissier constructed an album in conflict with itself. The mixture of pop-funk and reflective tracks bring a fun and energetic feel to the album, while the artist dives deep into herself, exploring her seething rage in “The walker” and the simplicity of pain in “The stranger”. In the energetic and intense track “Doesn’t matter”, she reveals her battle with suicidal thoughts and inspires others to overcome their problems with optimism or “a shard of sunlight.” In the upbeat “5 dollars”, Letissier’s dazzling voice really shines as she sings about empowering yourself to get up and keep pushing. Another empowering track, “Feel so good”, chronicles her apprehension when opening up to others: although it may backfire, it’ll still “feel so good” to be true to herself.
In the synth-laden “What’s-her-face”, Letissier beautifully laments her troubled past, a time filled with pain, loss, anguish and despair. She likens herself to someone with a forgettable face, forever shunned by people that hurt her. On this journey through her identity, she pauses in “Make some sense”, delicately revealing a lost love who became a nightmare. The placating production of the song is contrary to the impassioned lyrics, a continuing theme throughout the album. Just as some of the songs contradict each other, the album itself is a piece of dueling languages, the English and French versions of each song beautifully complementing the other.
An album defined by duality and contrast, the Frenchwoman’s emotions and struggles have never been more exposed. Unified by her battle with her identity and the contradictory beats and lyrics, Letissier’s second studio album couldn’t be more personal. A self-confident work of sexuality and identity, Chris truly is a modern example of an empowering female persona.