Charlotte Gainsbourg: 5:55

I discovered this CD in a roundabout sort of way, and I feel that I must disclose this so you know where I’m coming from. The other week, I saw a French movie called The Science of Sleep. I knew nothing about it except that it was:

a)- supposed to be weird, and;
b)- written and directed by Michel Gondry, who also directed a bunch of cool music videos, as well as one of my favourite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

It was weird, and it was pretty good. Not Eternal Sunshine-good, but that movie was written by someone else (Charlie Kaufman) who has written several great movies.

Science‘s major flaw, as far as I was concerned, was that it was a boy-with-quirks meets girl-with-compatible-quirks movie. In and of itself, I have no problem with this. I like Eternal Sunshine. I like Amélie. I like Jim and Pam. But the problem is that in Science, the boy-with-quirks, while he has his charming moments, is a bit of a sociopath. You don’t want the boy and the girl to get together in the end, or at least I didn’t. You might. But I just felt bad for the girl whenever she had to deal with the boy.

A few days after watching this movie, I was pondering this, and having decided that I liked the girl-with-quirks much more than the boy-with-quirks, I decided to see if she was naked on the Internet. She is an actress, she is French, it was a safe bet. First, I went to IMDB to find out her name (Charlotte Gainsbourg, if the bold lettering up there didn’t tip you off); then I went to Wikipedia to tell me facts about her that may or may not be true. It mentioned that she had an album out, and had provided spoken-word vocals for a Madonna track.

I assumed the album would be garbage and didn’t really give it another thought, until I noticed it on someone’s Best Albums of 2006 list. And, well, what is the Internet if not a transport system for music samples (and naked pictures of French actresses)?

So much for preconceived notions. (Of course, if I’d known she was the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg, I might have entirely different preconceived notions.) This album is great. Gainsbourg’s voice is haunting in a way that perfectly matches the lyrics. It’s trippy, it’s dreamy, it’s been stuck on repeat for a few days now. I have favourite tracks – AF607105 and Beauty Mark stand out right now – but like with any good album, they change on repeat listens until you realize that each song has taken its turn as your favourite. Get this.

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