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  • 5:55
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5:55
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2006
I put on this album at work the other day out of sheer curiosity. I liked the music of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin and I was wondering what their offspring's album might be like. Arianna Savall, the daughter of Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras, has done some lovely music and her album was highly accomplished. So sometimes the sons and daughters of singers and musicians do succeed in music, too.

I noticed that Jarvis Cocker and one of the members of Air were involved in mademoiselle Gainsbourg's album and that provided me with further incentive to hear this recording.

Okay, this album contains some very attractive music. The piano dominates and the instrumental shell around the singer's voice has an beguiling ambient character. The use of a string orchestra with the piano also impressed me.

I like the fact that Charlotte Gainsbourg's voice sits inside the instrumental music, rather than riding over the top. Ms Gainsbourg often singing in a very subdued way, almost a whisper. Normally, I find this approach a little tedious, but it works well here and is perfectly in keeping with the music.

I listened to this album three times today and I bought it.

I wouldn't mind seeing a collaboration between Charlotte Gainsbourg and John Foxx and/or Harold Budd. I can almost imagine her singing "He's A Liquid".

I warmly recommend 5.55 and I am sure that many music lovers will find much to enjoy in this subtle album.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2008
Her mother Jane Birkin added her breathy, orgasmic tones to her father Serge Gainsbourg's "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus".
And the family resemblances are unavoidable in Charlotte's album, that voice hesitant, barely a whisper at times, but shimmering with sexiness.
What saves this album from being a lot of Gallic mumblings bound up in its own self-importance is the heavweight help the family name commanded.
The result of Gainsbourg's meeting with Nicolas Godin, one half of French electronica duo Air, at a Radiohead concert in Paris, "5:55", is a carefully crafted gem.
Charlotte's voice is as slight and breathy as her mother's, but lyrics by Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon create a hazy, Gauloise-inflected intimacy against full, string-rich arrangements by producer Nigel Godrich, those Parisian maestros of wafting electronica "Air" are on board, as is "Radiohead" producer Nigel Godrich and Nigerian percussionist Tony Allen, lauded by Brian Eno as "the greatest musician on the planet".
The title track "5:55" and the first single "The Songs That We Sing stand out", the former haunting and piano-led, the latter carrying an infectiously boisterous chorus.
At times Charlotte's thin voice and finishing-school vowels can grate, but the album as a whole is emotive, rewarding and compelling - a world away from feather-strewn beds and dodgy filial duets.
We get the mildly erotic, such as the teasing "Beauty Mark", and we get something like beat poetry in "AF607105", with its stark lines about air travel.
There's also big helpings of the kind of wistful balladeering only the French can muster.

4 * * * * and 1/2.

The Originals
Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg
Songs That We Sing
L'Effrontee
Golden Door
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
They say if you're not any good at singing, you should surround yourself with the best musicians you can find. Time after time, this little method of canceling out one's vocal flaws has worked with almost no one noticing. So when I first heard that Charlotte Gainsbourg, a rather accomplished (or at least, talented) actress, was making an album with the help of the guys from Air, Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, and the one and only Jarvis Cocker, my first thought was that I was in for another lesson in "How Not to Sing." But I was terribly mistaken. As it turns out, Charlotte Gainsbourg is extremely talented. And wouldn't you know it? "5:55" is beautiful!

While not possessing the most powerful voice ever captured on an album, Gainsbourg does a brilliant job of blending her vocals in with Dunckel and Godin's Air-ish compositions. She accomplishes this by half-whispering most of her lyrics, but it sounds absolutely perfect. On the title track, "5:55," she sings, "Soon the morning will arrive. Can I begin another day whilst this old day is still alive, refusing to be put away," so beautifully that it feels like she's singing only for you. This brilliant lyric is penned by Cocker, as he and Hannon share most the songwriting duties on the album.

"The Operation" is perhaps the standout track on the album. It utilizes a steady electronic drum beat to accompany a great piano composition and bass line. The highlight of the song comes about half way through when the music drops out to leave Charlotte whispering, "Our love goes under the knife. Nothing is taboo here on the cutting edge of science..." It is yet another fantastic song.

'The Songs that We Sing" is the first time the album crosses into near-pop territory (later revisited in "Everything I Cannot See"). The music itself feels like it could've been ripped right off of one of Neil Hannon's albums. The song begins with an upbeat piano line and a xylophone syncopating along with it. Here, Gainsbourg asks the question, "And the songs that we sing, do they mean anything to the people we're singing them to?" over well-composed chord progression. "Beauty Mark" is a lesson in minimalism. The percussion on the song is largely forgotten in favor of creating the kind of lush soundscapes that have defined Air's sound for so many years. In what is extremely reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic short story, "The Birthmark," Gainsbourg sings, "This little death, this mark of sin, forever painted on my skin" over swells of strings.

The album is filled with examples of how my initial hypothesis was wrong. In fact, every song on this album is so gorgeous that it's hard to believe that Gainsbourg hasn't set aside her acting career in favor of this pursuit. Indeed, she is an unbelievably talented individual, and "5:55" is evidence of that. Of course, one could make the argument that without the talents of her constituents the album would not be near as good. My response is, who cares? "5:55" is amazing from the time you press play to when the final second ticks off. That's quite an achievement, and one that should not go unnoticed.

Recommended for fans of Air, Zero 7, and anyone who wants to define "beauty" more accurately.

Key Tracks:

1. "5:55"

2. "AF607105"

3. "The Operation"

4. "The Songs that We Sing"

5. "Little Monsters"

9 out of 10 Stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2006
I wish this review forum would allow for half stars, because I am really only just such a small step away from giving a full five stars. -- Charlotte's album captures an evocative nature and provides a taste of exotic accoustic beauty amongst a fog of entrancing classical undertones. The overall tone bears resembelance to fellow Parisian artists 'Air', with the help of their collaboration on the album. Throughout each song, Charlotte's voice whispers along to a sensational variety of musical intrigue and creates a unique empire of sound...an unruly yet captivating blend of genres: "Little Monsters" with its more classic rock/pop flavor, "Morning Song" with a softer accoustic/ambient feel, the classical lounge jazz feel of "Night-Time Intermission" and then going a bit stronger with more pop (a hint of country) and a slightly vibrant tone in "The Operation" and "The Songs That We Sing".

I only wished that Charlotte could have reached even further and gone even stronger with her songs and her beautiful voice...to have reached a level just a touch above those that she already touched upon, if only for one song. Even so, in all...a great album!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2008
As a general rule, actresses that decide to take up singing don't usually fare too well with me. Their albums almost always come across as vanity projects, trying too hard to get attention from either the mainstream or the "hipster crowd." Knowing this, I was rather cynical when a friend recommended Charlotte's "The Songs That We Sing." This particular friend had pretty good taste and liked a lot of things that I also went for, so I tracked down the song and hoped it would be worth my time. To my surprise, it was actually pretty good! Shortly afterward, I decided to give the full album a try, hoping it would avoid the "singing actress" cliches and be as good as "The Songs That We Sing."

At first glance, there's not really much to complain about with this album. Charlotte's voice is pleasant, the music is relaxing, and most of the lyrics are pretty decent. "AF607105," "The Operation," "Little Monsters," and the aforementioned "The Songs That We Sing" even border on being great. "Everything That I Cannot See," with its swirling piano, is also a treat to hear.

However, something seems to be missing, and that keeps this disc from being more than just average. Truly fantastic albums have a certain "something" about them that keeps me coming back for more, and I don't really get that feeling with this one apart from a few tracks. Too much of this album plays it safe musically, which is a disappointment. For example, I can never really recall what "Beauty Mark," "Morning Song," "Jamais," or "Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping" sound like.

Despite these complaints, this is definitely not a bad album. There are some very nice moments on here. However, I can't call it spectacular either. Perhaps it just hasn't found me in exactly the right moment to fall completely in love with it, but for now I rate it a solid three stars.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"I feel you all around me

You are everything I cannot see

As the ocean crawls onto the shoreline

So you lap at the edges of me"

Charlotte Gainsbourg's vocals are whispers of silky perfection. With a delicious French sensuality, she merges breathy lyrics by Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon and AIR with music by AIR. It is true to say she could sing anything and sound sexy.

At times the music does overtake her velvety vocals and in "Night-Time Intermission" she almost seems invisible except for giggles and silken nuance. At times the moods of her voice seem more important than the lyrics. The highlight is "Tel Que Tu Es" which is breathtaking.

Wistful and creative poetic lyrics make Charlotte Gainsbourg seem wise beyond her years and at times she reminds me of her mother, Jane Birkin on her Fictions album. Charlotte's shyness in singing, which is very attractive in a delicate way, will in no doubt give way to a full range of vocal ecstasy in future albums.

~The Rebecca Review
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As a companion to Charlotte Gainsbourg's 2010 release, Irm, I love this album. 5:55 came a few years before IRM, but the two play very nicely even in shuffle.

5:55 is a little less polished than IRM. Charlotte has really found her inner voice in IRM, and is still kind of searching in this album. The arrangements are bit more spartan here; this is a little less produced album. There is a lot more piano and synthesizer here. The songs on 5:55 are more about finding love; IRM is about her near death experience.

Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg and actress, has a whispy, incredibly sexy voice. Sometimes it seems as if she is whispering in your ear; this can be a very good intimate thing. Her lyrics are not as cutting as her father's but her voice has a much purer tone than her mother. She has inherited the best of her parents.

This is a nearly perfect party album. The dynamic range is narrow, so volume doesn't raise and lower in annoying way. The arrangements are quirky, not run of the mill ordinary songs. The album works listening carefully and as background music at a party.

I personally like 5:55, the mix of English and French is beautiful. Tel que tu es, is one of the more beautiful songs on the album. It is also one of two songs that are mostly in French. Oddly, no single track is five minutes and fifty five seconds long. The 13 track disc is fairly long, over 50 minutes.

This is an enjoyable, simple album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2010
Before listening to her third album, IRM, I was first introduced to Charlotte Gainsbourg's singing talents with this album, co-written with the french group AIR. And I have to say that in 5:55, Charlotte proves to us that she is a very talented singer. Instead of over expressing her voice with huge intonations and screeches like certain singers, each of her songs are sung softly. Which makes her introspective music much more impressive. And not only that, it enables us to visually interpret her songs as gorgeous landscapes. I write landscapes for I feel that each time I listen to her songs, I imagine gorgeous landscapes like those in the far west, and also gourgeous skies and cities, like in her songs AF607105, Night-Time intermission and her title song 5:55. Among my favourite tracks, I have a lot of fun listening to The operation, Any Songs that we sing, and Morning Song.

A great cd to spend your time relaxing or even to listen to while reading or playing video games.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2006
God, it must be hard to be a myth's daughter... As irreplacable as Serge Gainsbourg was, this album might get him closer than he's ever been.

This effort by Charlotte Gainsbourg and -most obviously- Air is a really close try to reviving a dearly lost father. If you want to go Oedipusian on this, you might say that she replaces her mother --Jane Birkin-- in songs that might have been her father's, only lacking the sexual context... but still dense, close... eery!

In the mean time the lyrics are tragically literal: feel this woman's pain in love, film, life... All beautifully presented in a family-manner by Nicolas Godin & Benoit Dunckel.

I was rather cynical at first hearing, but eventually "Intriguing" is probably the most adequate word --if it must be 1-- to describe 5:55.

Anyway, like it or not; if you've been waiting for the next album of Serge and Jane: This is it!

If not: Slide off into these warm waters and drift; you'll finally touch land somewhere...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2006
This album represents the best of several worlds. Fans of Air will undoubtedly revel in the sonic textures providing the background for Gainsbourg's breathy vocals. The lyrics by the likes of Neil Hannon and Jarvis Cocker are both intelligent and slighty obtuse, allowing for varied interpretations by the listener. And Francophiles will certainly appreciate the Gainsbough/Birkin update by their talented offspring. Seems like a shoo-in for KCRW to add to their playlists.
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