Sunday, May 27, 2007

A cinq heures cinquant-cinq

I came to Paris to spend the long weekend, and rented a car to wander around. I had learned from my previous stint in France that driving around Paris (instead of taking the subway) is a priceless pleasure - you get stuck in traffic, that's a fact, but you're surrounded by so many mesmerizing pieces of sculpture and architecture that it feels like a stroll in an art gallery. As I say, in Paris, I don't care about getting lost (which I often do), cause there's always a pleasant new scenery to look at from the car window.

Yet another thing I recall from when I lived in France is that the joys of Parisian wanderings are enhanced by a fitting soundtrack. I used to drive from Fontainebleau to Paris, stuck for ages in A6 and the Périférique, but to the tune of chansons françaises like "L'Eté Indien", "L'Envie d'Aimer" and "En Se Retrouvera" it felt like touring, not commuting. This weekend, though, I found myself with a rental car, but no soundtrack.

There are harder problems in life than that, I know, and that one was easily solved as I stepped into my long-time favourite Fnac store at the Forum Les Halles mall and headed for the "Noveau" shelves. I spotted Charlotte Gainsbourg' debut album, "5:55", which I had read about somewhere, and decided to give it a try. After listening to it some 3 or 4 times in one day, I got completely addicted and can't let it go.

I wouldn't be able to label it, honestly - something like mood music with virtuoso pianos mixed to electronic drum beats - but it is marked, above all, by Charlotte's delicate voice, whispered in a way that lend the songs an intimate and sexy edge. It sounds like she in a room, looking through a window in a rainy afternoon, while her lover takes a nap in the bed.

Lyrics that talk about love and worship to the lover accentuate the sensuality, like in "Everything I cannot see", the "poppiest" track. But the lyrics of the title song (and arguably best track) dwells on a different level - "5:55" talks about subconscience, about being half-awake and half-asleep at the same time. It is a song I would like to wake up to every day.

Given my enjoyment on the first 24 hours of ownership of this album, expect plenty more about it in the days to come in this page.

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