Chaleur Humaine, the first album by Christine & the Queens (real name Heloise Letissier) was released last week. It generated more attention than I’d expect – even The Guardian weighed in with a profile, quoting from several French newspapers. Like this one: ‘When an interviewer from Le Monde recently compared her to Canadian-born French star Mylène Farmer, Letissier was not impressed either. “No, she is sex. Me, I’m not very sexualised.” She has, all the same, inherited strong influences from the unorthodox history of the European cabaret and chanteuse scene, most obviously from the stage persona of the androgynous Marlene Dietrich.’
And: ‘The French singer, dancer, performance artist and composer, who is 26 this year, lives alone in the brash 19th arrondisement of Paris, near Pigalle, with her two cats and finds it hard to keep friends. She is often melancholy and says she is obsessed with death: “I’ve already thought about it. I have even tried it, but it didn’t work,” she told Libération.’
This blog’s been following Heloise since 2012, I even got a small piece on the Guardian’s Music Blog. I was very curious about Chaleur Humaine; it’s one of the strongest French albums released this year, one that can hold it’s ground against the influx of brilliant Quebecoise artists.
Though the ‘& the Queens’ adjective suggests a band, C&tQ is a one woman operation, which makes this album even more impressive. She admires Katy Perry, Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, but her music’s more in the vein of Fever Ray and Grimes: moody, electronica-driven, fragile at times.
The title track is one of the best tracks, with strings ‘n beats and a vocal melody that’s in the vein of Bashung and Christophe: no wonder, she covers his ‘Paradis Perdus’. Christine even inserts a bit of Kanye in her own version. Earlier, C&tQ did a reprise of Yves Simon’s Amazoniaque.
More C&tQ on Soundcloud.
Full album on Youtube.