Charlotte Gainsbourg's Stage Whisper little MORE than a 'Whisper'

I guess Charlotte Gainsbourg is "back." But she never really left to begin with? How could she? Melancholia and Antichrist kept her well in the public eye, informing us of her a.) natural threat to penises (peni?) and b.) her close kinship with KIRSTEN DUNST. 

Regardless, Stage Whisper was released last month- following the success of 2010's IRM, produced by OUR LORD AND SAVIOR Beck Hansen- with relatively little new material, mostly a live album of sorts with a few new songs thrown in.


"Anna" <-- my favorite
"White Telephone"<-- haunting! 

Whereas IRM was decorated with feelings of paranoia and wistfulness, something about Stage Whisper feels slightly more playful, whereas still very wistful! "Paradisco"- sort of a follow-up to "Trick Pony" is pretty distant and sexy. "Anna" is mournful, "Memoir" is somehow upbeat while maintaining a level of lovelorn-ness we can come to associate with anyone last named "Gainsbourg" or "Birkin" or any remotely French singer.

(am I overwriting this? GOOD. I didn't get an English degree from sucking my professors off.)  

Really, like IRM before it, there's not a dud on Stage Whisper. "Got To Let Go" is a grower, as it pairs her with the unlikely partner of Charlie Fink a la Noah and the Whale. Charlie's voice is flat, and Charlotte's voice isn't really remarkable, and at first listen it's kind of boring. Which could be the biggest complaint against her music:  it's boring. But if you can appreciate Charlotte Gainsbourg for what she is, both in music and sometimes in film, a quiet beauty, .... you will learn to love it. 

And the live album? The second half? 

It's good; even though it's hard to consider Gainsbourg a live performer, since she tours so infrequently. Her live reendition of Bob Dylan's cover of "Just Like a Woman" is especially worth hearing. She actually will prove herself to you as a live performer in this part...ditto with "IRM." Now the live version of "IRM" is OUTSTANDING. I've always found it an intriguing recorded track, but live! It's something else. Something otherworldly.

All in all- not groundbreaking, not a triumph, but definitely a note to start 2012 highly on. Kudos Charlotte.