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Chris' new life

By Nicolas Magenham |

Christine And The Queens is back, with new EP "La vita nuova" which explores themes of suffering and subsequent growth, with an airtight backdrop of retro electronica...



This EP from Christine And The Queens – released only a year and a half after her second album Chris – continues in the musical line that is so personal to Héloïse Létissier (Chris’ real name). Electronica from the 80s and 90s appears to still be the driving force behind the singer’s music, but there are influences from Michael Jackson and Laurie Anderson as well. That’s not where the ‘new’ aspect from the title comes from then.

La vita nuova refers instead to the first work written by Dante in the 13th century, in which Beatrice Portinari appears, a woman that Dante is madly in love with. He experiences great suffering following her sudden disregard for him, but also develops a certain level of maturity. The emancipatory virtues of moral suffering are at the heart of this EP, especially in its cornerstone track People I’ve Been Sad: “Adolescence contrariée par un millier de chardons morts/Marcher pieds nus sur du verre et maintenant tout est plus fort (Teenage years upset by a million dead thistles/Walking barefoot on broken glass now everything is stronger). Chris seems to be playing the victim, but a former victim whose pain has made them stronger, as in Je disparais dans tes bras: “Pourrais-tu m’aimer? Ça j’en doute, quand tu prends ce que tu veux de moi” (Could you love me? I doubt it, when all you take from me is what you need).



If we turn our attention to the cover, the roles appear to be reversed. Other than the vague references to The Exorcist and Mary Poppins, the image of Chris looking forlornly into the distance, leaning against a lamp post on a foggy street, reminds you of Joan Bennett in Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street (1945). Bennett plays Kitty, a scheming femme fatale who plots against Edward G. Robinson’s naïve character called… Chris.

In identifying with Kitty, Christine And The Queens deploys her strength, while also endeavouring to forget her painful past. The dominance of the colour purple – which in Dante’s time was the colour of mourning – across the various imagery of the project, is telling. On Nada, over an understated but upbeat orchestration, she states loud and clear that she's “never ever coming back again”. With this collection of multilingual songs (French, English, Spanish, Italian), Christine And The Queens is drawing a new map of her life, a glittering atlas with Mountains steeper and more grandiose than ever.

LISTEN TO "LA VITA NUOVA" BY CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS ON QOBUZ


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