IRM - Charlotte Gainsbourg
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. As a pairing between two artists, the album works, though not nearly as much as it could have if both were at the top of their game.
  2. IRM is an album that refuses to cast Gainsbourg as the chanteuse some would like to see her as, and her willingness to gamble with her persona and musical style is laudable. However, this risk-taking attitude results in an inconsistent jumble of ideas that ends up being much less of a peek inside what it is to be human than the title might suggest.
  3. It’s not a completely futile exercise--there are some decent tracks--but it falls far short of the quality of its predecessor.
  4. For this and a couple other of IRM‘s electronic-heavy songs, Gainsbourg sounds like she’s doing her best Trish Keenan, though the songs lack the warmth and haunting tension a band like Broadcast can create from similar soundscapes.
  5. The subject matter subverts her inherent sensuousness, but this is still Charlotte Gainsbourg singing-- at times, she can't help sounding like the cooing French goddess her father helped popularize. It's dead sexy, reborn.
  6. Where her previous album was ethereal and ephemeral, IRM is exciting and eclectic.
  7. Primarily, the scattershot sounds and surrealistic lyrics are typical of her songwriter and producer, Beck, who renders his muse more mysterious by burying her gossamer voice comparatively low in the mix. Slowly, though, glimpses of what has driven Gainsbourg to make IRM emerge.
  8. Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg may be the daughter of the ultimate Euro-glam couple, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, but her Beck collaboration, IRM, is a tough-minded trip through some serious adult trauma.
  9. 70
    Gainsbourg and Beck generate one catchy track after another without producing much heat, but sometimes canny dabbling is its own reward.
  10. Ultimately it's Gainsbourg's voice--a heady melange of tussled bedclothes whisperings and near-dead sexy murmurs--that lifts both her life and art from beneath the shade of her mythic paterfamilias.
  11. 91
    Beck’s willingness to raid just about any genre works wonders when coupled with Mlle. Gainsbourg’s ability to inject matter-of-fact sexual energy into just about anything.
  12. IRM is a swirling mess of sounds and signifiers, tied together in how irresistible it all is.
  13. Though the album hits a few sleepy troughs along the way, it gets progressively stranger and more aggressive, with distorted bass (“Trick Pony”), tribal drumming (“Voyage”) and T-Rex-style boogie (“Dandelion”) giving Gainsbourg room to stretch.
  14. Throughout the follow-up to her 2006 album, "5:55," Gainsbourg never sounds out of her element, no matter how the music shifts underneath her feet.
  15. Gainsbourg deftly resets the emotional thermostat with every lilt of her nimble, witty vocals.
  16. Approaching music as a role rather than means of personal expression, Gainsbourg has--once again--turned in an Oscar-worthy performance. [Holiday 2009, p.77]
  17. At times it is so minimal and skeletal, the songs are in need of intensive care. Yet it is unafraid to rock (Trick Pony, Dandelion) or be resolutely commercial.
  18. 80
    In a way, this album serves as a fitting sonic museum to Serge, one that plunders from his past while maintaining his relentlessly forward-looking, hybridised pop vision. [Feb 2010, p.87]
  19. 60
    With its profusion of delicate acoustic guitar arpeggios and fine string arrangements by Beck's father David Campbell, much of the rest of IRM steers a more organic, at times almost skiffle-like path, but the twist is Gallic melancholy. [Feb 2010, p. 93]
  20. IRM proves suitably unconventional thanks to the presence of co-writer and producer Beck Hansen, who plays fast and loose with Gainsbourg's breathy chanson, skipping from spiky percussion (Master's Hands) to lush orchestration (Vanities) even joining her at the mic for jaunty, '60s-flavoured duet Heaven Can't Wait. [Feb 2010, p 107]
  21. For all that is revealed about Charlotte’s experiences via the songs on this album, there is always the knowledge that Beck is the songwriter, which raises the questions of how close Charlotte is to the lyrics, and if Beck has transcribed what Charlotte described to him with minimal interference, or if his own views and ideas have shaped the finished work and altered Charlotte’s original intent.

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