It is probably an unpopular opinion but I’ve always felt that Charlotte Gainsbourg is at her best when she ditches the breathy French ballads and embraces more upbeat tracks. Now don’t get me wrong but I did like previous albums 5:55 and IRM but I felt that they needed some oomph.
Well for Rest Gainsbourg did bring in the oomph factor. She has always been great at choosing collaborators and producers (previous ones have been Air, Jarvis Cocoker and Beck) but for rest the main producer is SebastiAn, with Connan Mockasin contributing to two tracks, Paul Mccartney (yes the Beatle) adding some guitar, string arrangements by Owen Pallett and Daft Punk’s Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo producing a track as well.
SebastiAn gives Gainsbourg’s music a much needed bounce. That is not to say that this is a full on disco album but at least, the ballads have a bit of pep in them. Despite the fact the music sounds upbeat, Rest is a concept album about death and the grim reaper leaves his traces throughout the record. The opener Ring-A-Ring of Roses harks the familiar nursery rhyme, which is about death. There’s a track which quotes tragic heroine Sylvia Plath, Lying with you is a meditation about a deceased loved one and so one. As I said though most of it sounds upbeat. The aforementioned Sylvia Plath quoting track is the standout: a slo mo disco number with an addictive groove. Deadly Valentine is weirdly danceable, Songbird in a Cage (The Paul Mccartney one) is a funky toe tapping number that soars. Even the most mournful piece here, the title track (the daft punk one), floats like a digital cloud. Kate could easily be on a Wes Anderson soundtrack. There are tons of great moments on this album.
With Rest Gainsbourg has managed to create an introspective album, that doubles as a dance record. It is serious and yet there’s a playful element which not too many people know how to pull off with such panache. Rest is definitely Gainsbourg’s best album to date.
Oh and stick til the end, there’s a bizarre rendering of the alphabet which is very… French (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it)