Charlotte Gainsbourg’s first proper album since 2010, the upcoming Rest, doesn’t actually represent her first new music in that time—her 2011 set Stage Whisper included unreleased studio material from her sessions with Beck—but its first single builds enigmatically and beguilingly on the way her previous album, IRM, found romance in the void. “Rest” is also, fittingly, the first new Gainsbourg music since she starred in Lars Von Trier’s sensation-causing, sex-depicting 2013 film Nymphomaniac, for which she, with Beck again, breathily covered “Hey Joe.” There were hints of dance-tinged electro-pop on Stage Whisper numbers like “Terrible Angels” and “Paradisco,” so it makes sense that for this song she worked with Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.
The son of legendary chanteur Serge and the brother of actress/singer Charlotte, Lulu Gainsbourg finally followed in his family's musical footsteps at the age of 25 with this tribute record, From Gainsbourg to Lulu. Its 16 covers of his late father's work include five solo numbers, collaborations with both English-language artists (Scarlett Johansson on "Bonnie & Clyde"), and some of his homeland's biggest stars (M on "Requiem pour un Con"), and tracks recorded solely by the likes of Iggy Pop ("Initial BB"), Shane MacGowan ("Sous le Soleil Exactement"), and Vanessa Paradis & Johnny Depp ("Ballade de Melody Nelson").
As early as 1961, Serge Gainsbourg was one of the most extraordinary artists of the French pop scene, and during the first part of the '60s the crooner produced a series of outrageously brilliant albums with producer/arranger Alain Goraguer. One of his most intoxicating amalgams of jazz and pop styles, L'Etonnant Serge Gainsbourg comes highly recommended to fans of '60s French pop. An utterly essential early document of Serge Gainsbourg while he was still a mildly respectable man – but that's not say there aren't hints of his notorious decadence in this early work.
You're Under Arrest, Gainsbourg's final album, was another collaboration with American Billy Rush in New Jersey. It's difficult to say what Rush was going for here with Gainsbourg. There's the feeling that Rush was taken with both Nile Rodgers' Chic and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (especially with the "hugh, hugh, hugh" in the refrains). These are overly slick funk tunes that border on both new wave and rap, and seem to leave the subtle ironies of Gainsbourg's demented lyrics behind – which is too bad because this record is a step up lyrically from Love on the Beat.
Serge Gainsbourg's fascination with the noisier bodily functions has been well-documented, both by his biographers and by his own records. Who else, after all, would commission Sly & Robbie to lay down their earthiest, dubbiest reggae rhythm, then punctuate it with nonstop farting noises ("Evguenie Sokolov" from 1981's Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles album)? Who else would write a novel about a gas-stricken painter who turns his body-burps to his artistic advantage? And whose else could conceive an album dedicated in its near-entirety to…well, the song titles tell that story: "La Poupee Qui Fait" translates as "The Doll That Goes to the Toilet," the title track documents the messier consequences of anal sex, and "Des Vents, des Pets, des Boums" means, simply, "Wind, Farts, Booms."
Recorded in the Bahamas with the same all-star personnel as 1979's Aux Armes et Cætera, Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles is yet another of Gainsbourg's reggae albums, including all the deficiencies inherent in its predecessor as well as the few positives. The breezy melodies of his prime material from the '60s and '70s are unfortunately missing. Though the sound and production is up to Gainsbourg's usual high standards, the songs are much weaker than expected. With little to anchor it except the players and Gainsbourg's seedy vocal delivery, Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles simply floats away. :)