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Christine and the Queens’ Redcar les adorables etoiles: Review

“I wish you would have chosen my so so soft face/ And halt the time, stop pretending/ I’m made of water and earth and my heart shines within a cage/ And I search for the meaning in order to feel alive,” sings Héloïse Letissier, aka Christine and the Queens, aka Chris, aka Redcar, on his new project Christine and the Queens presents Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue). It’s intense and visceral imagery from an artist who never holds back with his lyrics, which regularly touch upon the total surrendering of vulnerability, grasping at an as-yet unknown sense of belonging, and simply feeling all the feelings.

“Redcar” is the latest project-slash-character from the musician known as Christine and the Queens. “Christine and the Queens” has always been a stage persona for the artist born Héloïse Letissier — the name taken from when he was inspired by London drag queen musicians at the Soho nightclub Madame Jojo’s — but even that persona has morphed along with Letissier.

Hence “Redcar,” the newest literal vehicle of creativity for the musician; a rich, romantic odyssey that expands upon the project of Christine and the Queens and adds even more dimensions and possibilities. “Redcar, like all my poetic and philosophical constructions, is a poetic and philosophical construction that helps me to become,” Letissier previously stated.

The studio album itself (arriving Friday, November 11th), titled Christine and the Queens presents Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue), is operatic, dramatic and striking, full of motifs about the heavenly and fabled, where angels and knights and celestial white birds run amok. It’s Redcar’s most challenging album yet, in which he addresses an entity that could be either himself, or a lover; the production still leans heavily into the delicate, baroque synth-pop and irresistible melodies he has become so lauded for, but the emphasis remains on Redcar’s vocal delivery and texturally succulent lyrics.

As a whole, the record is a foray into the fantastical and the mythical, touching on themes of yearning, the confined nature of the physical body, and what it means to exist beyond it. It’s experimental and grandiose, an exploration into the realms of possibility of our past, present, and future selves. “I decided since my previous names where dead and the truth of my ultimate name, my ultimate state, was still a mystery to me… that I would become this sign of hope, this prayer, this manifestation technique. Redcar for everyone, everyone that needs just a little hope,” Redcar said about the album.

Opener “Ma bien aimée bye-bye / My beloved bye-bye” is perhaps the most overt song about Letissier becoming Redcar, described as “a shedding of this dead woman skin imposed on me where I could barely breathe.” “Tu sais ce qu’il me faut / You know what I need” is full of dramatic grandeur with Redcar’s voice front and center, a declaration of extreme lust one harbors for a person.

Album highlight “Rien dire / Say nothing,” a delightful sparkly synth-pop number, is a declaration about love as something that is wholly alive, and how it is more about a spiritual entity than something that can be confined into a singular being, something that is always growing and ever-mutating: “Even if I’m not always in your arms/ It seems that you are walking besides me/ And my gestures took the color of your movements/ And I think about it all the time, in spite of myself.”

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