Christine & the Queens have been a well kept secret considering this album came out in France two years ago after three successful EPs and a slot opening for Lykke Li. The first time I heard of Christine was her amazing performance of ‘Tilted’ last November on The Daily Show where Trevor Noah praised her for being “absolutely amazing” and “weird”. Her performances came after a Pitchfork article a few months before that gives more insight into the woman and the thought behind some tracks such as ‘iT’ and some background on the self proclaimed Freak-Pop artist, born Héloïse Letissier.
Chaleur Humaine (Human Warmth) was completely in French and has been partially re-recorded in English to make it more accessible on some tracks. I have a confession to make, my working knowledge of French is stunted in year 8 and yet the transition from English to French is so seamlessly done you won’t notice until it’s already happening. The songwriting is restrained yet undifficult and poised. The synth pop record plays with r&b, trap and electronica in a unique way, weaving them into the fabric of this aesthically Pop album. The first thing that stands out during this record is how well produced it is. The electronic glitches, sweeping synths and Letissier’s smooth French-tinged crooning stays on side of nuanced and inviting.
Where the record really shines is when Lesissier is subverting the narrative and exploring a gender less identity such as on the grandstanding opener ‘iT’ where she professes “I’m a man now and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” evoking the idea that she will not be restricted by the notion of gendered narrative and yeti later verse gives away “she draws her own crotch by herself but she’ll lose it because it’s a fake.”
Another highlight of the record is the intergalactically bouncy ‘Science Fiction’ that creates for the listener how Christine experiences going into public with her partner.
A standout track on the record is ‘Paradis Perdus’ a track that interpolates ‘Les paradis perdus’ by Christophe and ‘Heartless’ by Kanye West. She encapsulates the atmosphere of a song that is iconic for West and make it truly her own creating a moody, familiar moment that stands apart.
Ultimately, Chaleur Humaine is a perfect antidote to the pop that currently dominates the charts. It’s intelligent and intricate without being intimidating. If you’ve seen the adverts for the album and like what you see then definitely check out Christine and the Queens’ YouTube channel a heck out her stunning dance moves for yourself.
Here is the video for ‘Tilted‘