Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
Record Label: Because Music
Release Date: December 7, 2009
What came first, the music or the misery? Cliche enough for you? It's the creative process for many artists across any genre. When traditionalists think of pop, it's usually synonymous with bright burning guitar licks and sunlit, choral repetitive lines. Misery ridden pop is usually less infectious. With IRM, songwriter and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg's third album, tragedy was a predecessor to some of the best music on a major radio level at the tail end of last year. It also doesn't help that Beck was behind the wheel on this one.
Take the hit single "Heaven Can Wait." Its guitar progression is straightforward, while bleak lyrical undertones, cryptic chants and horns motion the song along. The song's beautiful brooding pop floats the listener along, as opposed to grabbing them for a few seconds before their A.D.D. catches another Top 40 one hit wonder.
The single is followed by "Me and Jane Doe," a perfect example of Beck's production work, pulling and putting in new sounds throughout the song's duration. The same can be said for techniques used for the opening "Master's Hands," "IRM" and "Greenwich Mean Time." There's a dark guitar muffle on "Trick Pony" and a quiet crawl on "Vanities" that delivers an uneasy feeling that the listener can't turn away from.
One has to wonder how much of Beck's production influenced the record though. The closing "Looking Glass Blues" sounds like a Guero outtake, and his voice carries more in the single than Gainsbourg's. None of this is a bad thing, it's just morbid curiosity. "in the End" sounds more natural to Gainsbourg's past styles, as does "Time of the Assassins."
After many a repeat listen to IRM, I really could care less as to who came up with what ideas for the album. I'm just thankful that the two musicians could come together on this and create a traditional, yet somewhat anti-pop album of late last year. There's so much to love upon repeat listens, and I find myself liking new parts each time. Sometimes beauty is found in the most harden times in our lives. Thankfully art can help create a portrait and lasting memory. Even more thankfully, there are artists that can do it perfectly with appeal and accessibility to the general public and harden critics alike.