Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55

Written in collaboration with Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), recorded with the help of Air, and produced by the esteemed Nigel Godrich (OK Computer), Charlotte Gainsbourg here takes the idea of Anglo-French union to the extreme. Yet considering all the big names involved, 5:55 is a surprisingly subtle work. As the title track suggests, it is perhaps best listened to at a time of day when there are few other distractions.

This is a sensual album, mainly thanks to the breathy vocals and a pace which seems to mimic that of a lazy shag. Despite previous controversial recordings with her late father, Serge, she sticks well within the realms of good taste. Still, examine the poetic lyrics and you will find the tone occasionally dark. The Operation, while apparently starting off as a song about intimacy, takes some sinister turns. "Now I can really/ Mess around with your heart/ And fill it to the brim with broken dreams."

Remove the vocals and you have a fairly typical Air record (no slight intended), the dreamy, cinematic arrangements incorporating everything from programmed drums to strings. The emphasis is very much on sophisticated songwriting. This is an album aimed at a patient and attentive audience. 5:55 takes a number of close listens, but those who allow themselves to be seduced will find it an undeniably classy affair.



out of 10
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