Track-by-track Review: Christine and The Queens’ “Saint Claude E.P.”
Written by Coog Radio on April 28, 2015
When listening to this E.P. the following stream of words kept popping into my head; French-synth-pop-lucid-dream. If these adjectives sound interesting to you in anyway then you will definitely want to keep reading. Christine and The Queens is the musical pseudonym for the Nantes born singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier. Although she has been releasing material in her native country since 2011, she has now gained the attention of an American audience due to her recent ties to U.S. indie outlet Neon Gold Records. This E.P. was edited and promoted by them with plans to tour this year opening for Marina and the Diamonds. When listening to her work, it is no surprise why she has caught the eye of a Western audience. Her aesthetic alone is enticing; dance/movement intensive music videos, cryptic and heartfelt lyrics with classically tinged melodies sung by the voice of a Euro-indie-angel, what’s not to love? Having studied theatre at the ENS Lyon (a highly prestigious university in Lyon, France) she has no problem showing her chops in performance art and musical composition and nothing could be a better showcase than the singles and their companion music videos from this E.P.
This song opens with some distant yet still cacophonous piano chords that fade into a linear synth bass line. When the bridge to chorus comes in, a bubbly melody pierces the otherwise chilled out instrumental. This juxtaposition sets the tone for what you can expect for the rest of your listening experiences. A solid opener.
2. Saint Claude
“Saint Claude” was one of the first tracks I heard from Christine and The Queens. Sung mostly in French with the exception of the chorus, it’s brooding and emotional. With an unobtrusive drum beat and subtle organ-esque synth notes rounding out the instrumental, she creates a spacious atmosphere by adding a haunting melody and vocal delivery over it all. It is even more beautiful when paired with gorgeous modern dance moves so check out the music video below!
This was definitely a highlight of the E.P. The moment it started during my first listen, I knew I would love it. It starts with some delayed synth chords that play in a brighter tone than the songs we’ve heard previously. The repetitive vocal lines like the chorus (“I am actually good, can’t help it if we’re tilted”) and “I’m doing my face with magic marker” are fun and memorable. Also, for an added bonus, she does a kind of rap/beat/slam/90s dance style breakdown in French toward the middle of the song.
4. Narcissus is Back
“Narcissus is Back” is the most playful track lyric and instrumental wise. It’s a little off-beat and off-color compared to the rest of the tracks, but in a positive way. It stands out with it’s almost 80s-goth-throwback vibe a-la Depeche Mode or a more modern laid-back version of something Chvrches might do. She alludes to a lover that shares traits with the Greek god Narcissus; vain, self-absored, and complete lack of compassion or commitment. What could have come off as a biting revenge track plays more as a sassy “you’ll get what’s coming to you” anthem.
5. The Loving Cup
This closer is in the vain of a 90s R&B Jam that maybe F.K.A. Twigs, Jessie Ware, or everyone’s favorite indie-sister-power-trio HAIM might do. The almost mantra-like chorus will keep this song going in your head all day long guaranteed and the funky bass grooves and snare pops will keep you dancing as well.
After putting all this into the eye and ear pleasing package that is Christine and The Queens, one could say that all her theatre and arts training has definitely paid off. This gives me hope as I approach the home stretch of gaining my own B.F.A. that I could one day create such concise and well defined material. With this E.P. as a pre-cursor for things to come, I’m looking forward to whatever material this French songstress has to offer.
What do YOU think of this E.P.? Too French? Not enough French? You prefer French Fries? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share on social media! Christine and The Queens might SEE this and how cool would that be?!
By Trent Lira