REVIEW: Christine and the Queens Presents Redcar – Redcar les adorables étoiles

I found this a tough review to write. Not for the most obvious reason that Redcar les adorables étoiles is almost entirely performed in French and my own knowledge of that language is almost non-existent. Not because I always find it tough writing from the perspective of a true super fan of an artist, my expectations are surely clouded by just how invested I am in any project the artist would do. It’s not even because this is the least instantly accessible record from someone who has primarily dealt in catchy pop hooks and funky grooves.

The reason I found it so difficult is because I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an album from an artist as ‘mainstream’ as Redcar where, for its 50 minute length, it feels like necessary music. Music that they had to make – not for commercially driven reasons; not to appease a label asking for a hit; simply to survive, to make it through to the next day. There’s so much raw emotion, pain and heart in every moment of Redcar’s performance on his third full length album that even someone who can’t understand some lyrics feels the gravity of every moment.

It’s why any criticism I may make about Redcar le adorables étoiles begins to collapse when I say it out loud. Is there anything on here as effortlessly infectious as on 2018’s Chris? No. Is this an album built for dance, probably the aspect of the Christine and the Queens project I have enjoyed the most previously? Absolutely not. Would I recommend this to people who have previously been lukewarm on previous albums? Definitely not. But each thing I say I’m drawn back to songs like ‘Je te vois enfin’ with its pulsing piano line and throbbing bass, a song that seems simple on the surface but has layers of emotive nuance in every line. This music wasn’t created in comparison to anything that came before, it’s exactly what he needed to make.

I’m taken to opener ‘Ma bien aimée bye bye’ which bears a slightly hooky chorus and an almost indie guitar loop but is full of this theatrical drama in the way it unfolds. ‘La clairefontaine’ is equally as dramatic and thrilling. Theatre is possibly the most obvious entry point for what Redcar has said is set to be the opening act of the next part of their career. A moment of self-discovery, but also of danger and a ‘live’ atmosphere. The whole record is produced in this very natural way, there may be synths, but nothing feels artificially performed. On ‘Looking For Love’, for instance, the main chorus could easily explode into a commercially driven ‘dance banger’ and end up feeling quite synthetic, but instead there’s a delicacy to the way Redcar navigates the upbeat moments.

It’s this twisting of expectations and surprising lack of ‘studio magic’ that we first heard on the excellent EP La Vita Nouva back in 2020 and for me a song from that record like ‘People I’ve Been Sad’ feels like the necessary push that Redcar needed as an artist to create music like this. ‘rien dire’ ends up being the most familiar sounding track when seen in this context, one of many songs that focus on a relatively simple navigation of loving someone else. It’s a poignant moment on the record though and one I feel will only be enhanced by what we should be seeing in a live show imminently.

All of this said, it’s a sparse existence in the world that Redcar has created on this album. There’s space surrounding drums, there are extended songs like ‘Combien de temps’ that definitely outstay their welcome and moments like ‘My birdman’ feel like glimpses of a wider picture. But in the time I’ve spent with Redcar les adorables étoiles so far this feels like the point. It’s the start of a new chapter in the career of Pop music’s most dynamic performer, full of theatrical delight and unexpected moments. It’s not an easy ride, but in Redcar’s world it never will be.

Words by Sam Atkins

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