Unparalleled in modern pop music
Martha Storey
13:49 10th November 2022

Redcar (fka Christine and the Queens) has long since focused his music around themes of performance and adoption of identity. His debut album Chaleur Humaine opened with ‘iT’, an exposition of gender in which Christine was taunted by those calling him a “fake” man. Follow up Chris saw a woman trying on masculine tropes and her sexuality. On his third album, Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles, the artist now known as Redcar furthers this idea of performance, setting the album within a dizzying theatrical landscape.

Another theme that runs through Redcar Les Adorables Etoiles is love. In Redcar’s words, “Love - this uninterrupted conversation / Love, the real kind”. Redcar has always struck me as an intelligent person, his smart and sometimes cryptic musings lifting his stylish music to new heights. But Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles lets us into a more intimate setting than seen previously. Speaking to the Guardian, Redcar talks about the name ‘Christine and the Queens’ as being one that “could be used by everybody.” In shaking off that name, then, Redcar lets us into a more personal exploration of love and longing than seen previously.

‘la chanson du chevalier’ is struck through with a haunting retrain of “the man I love” sitting underneath the powerful, layered melody of the song. Lead single ‘rien dire’ questions its beloved and their readiness to love in Redcar’s native French, the language used notably more here than on previous albums. But it’s ‘looking for love’ that really stands out as being the most overt show of vulnerability, its chorus sung in a high and exposed register that mirrors the intimacy that Redcar is searching for. The rest of the track is larger than life, with an almost dizzying quality to its pulsating mixture of synths and drum-machines. Gone is the slickness of 2018’s Chris; here, Redcar embraces the maximalism and heightened emotion that comes with a search for genuine love.

The album occupies busier soundscapes than we are used to, fusing 80s synths and drums with distinctly theatrical tropes and vocals. There are echoes of his earlier work here - ‘je te vois enfin’ is reminiscent of ‘Science Fiction’ in its synths and chorus-like backing vocals - but there is also something distinctively less sleek and more instinctive about this music.

The opener, ‘Ma bien aimée byebye” leans into an almost prog-rock sound and musical structure, whilst “Tu sais ce qui’ilmefaut” feels like the a tune from an off-beat, arty musical. The latter song is playful, its punchy drum line cut through with layers of different iterations of Red’s voice, exploring different registers and tones. 

"The artistry on display on Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles is something unparalleled in modern pop music..."

Sometimes the overly dramatised nature of the music can jar - the introduction of ‘Tu sais ce qui’ilmefaut’ is for me a touch too exaggerated to fully get into. However where the theatricals are more muted, like in the swaggering rhythms of ‘combien de temps’, the effect is captivating and suspenseful.

The conscious emphasis on the performative aspect of his artistry is interesting, given Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles is Redcar’s first album as a man. Perhaps this is suggestive of a Judith Butler-inspired link between gender and performance. Or maybe the album is an exploration of how performance can reveal who we really are - the rawness that cuts through the songs and their delivery would certainly support this reading. Redcar has spoken about his use of different characters and names to “locate himself” - and while influenced by theatrics, there is no reason to suggest that the album is completely divorced from Redcar himself. Regardless of whether Redcar is performance or reality, a character or a person, there is no doubting the artistry on display on Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles is something unparalleled in modern pop music.

Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles arrives November 11th

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