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4.4 out of 5 stars26
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on January 30, 2010
Chalotte Gainsbourg has had a rollercoaster of a life since the release of her last album, 5:55 in 2006. In 2007, she played Claire, a French artist who became one of Bob Dylan's wives in the movie I'm Not There. The same year, she fell victim to a water skiing accident that violently shook her brain and could have easily paralyzed or killed her. After undergoing emergency surgery, Charlotte was miraculously fine, but she had numerous M.R.I. scans afterwards to verify her stable condition. The title of this new album, the French term for M.R.I., clearly reflects Charlotte's mindset as this new album was produced.

Although Charlotte is the sole vocalist on all but one of the tracks on IRM, a great deal of the creative control on this solo record, including the majority of the songwriting credit, is given to Beck Hansen, commonly known as Beck. From the first measure of "Master's Hands," the lead track on IRM, Beck's influence is easily recognizable. Gainsbourg had already seemed to channel Beck's Mellow Gold on 5:55, but IRM captures the more experimental and percussive side of Beck heard on "Modern Guilt," Beck's most recent release.

The title track, "IRM", cleverly uses sample sounds of a running M.R.I. machine as the lyrics "Take a picture, what's inside? Ghost image in my mind" are sung by an intentionally emotionless Gainsbourg. While references to her life after the accident are not always so blatantly present, they can often be found hidden within a verse or chorus; Beck's obvious attempt to keep the music relative to the artist singing. The only track on which Beck does sing, Heaven Can Wait, he and Charlotte share nearly every word with a perfect balance. Neither Beck nor Gainsbourg are particularly gifted vocalists, but their lack of refinement seems to give an additional honesty to the words being sung.

It seems strange to call this a Charlotte Gainsbourg solo album with Beck's influence reigning over every last aspect of the work, but what started as a small recording session between the two blossomed into an incredible success. Charlotte's last record, certified platinum in France, never achieved much success in the US, but with a little help from the cunning king of musical imagery, I have no doubt IRM will finally provide her with the recognition she deserves.

Similar Artists: Beck, Regina Spektor

Track Suggestion: IRM
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on February 23, 2010
I've been a huge fan of Beck of a long, long time, I have nearly every single Beck record (I don't have the counterpart to One Foot In The Grave, yet). So, when I heard he was producing this record, that got me interested. Just her alone is impressive, but his part in it makes all that much better. I think her other records are very much worth getting as well, I wish I'd heard of her sooner. Both are incredibly innovative by themselves, the pairing makes this record doubly artistic. I'll definately be listening to this one for years to come.
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on January 27, 2010
Album in hand for a mere few hours and I know the love I feel right now will be mine for a very long time. I have heard rumors of this project (Charlotte & Beck) for months and have waited with breath that is baited. NOT DISAPPOINTED. Charlotte's voice is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard and Beck is my living legend, so be warned the combination is deadly. Charlotte has FINE taste in collaborators, between AIR and Beck, she has my attention.

Master's Hand is LOVELY and the perfect start to this enchanting album. The string arrangement of the too short In The End is exquisite. The hammer beat piano driven Heaven Can Wait is reminiscent of a Beatles tune with a unique twist. Time of the Assassins is deadly beautiful, possibly my favorite. Greenwich Mean Time screams Beck... SCREAMS.

All in all you will hear the Beck/Charlotte collaboration and if you like/respect either, you will NOT be disappointed. Oh, so happy.
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on July 25, 2013
Oh sure, you can just ogle the cover photos, but I suggest you open it and Listen. If you are a Beck fan, you'll hear his "fingerprint" instantly. It's great music - moody, atmospheric and often FUN. What's wrong with that? The song "Dandilion" is especially Beck-y and will not let you forget who wrote and produced this cool album.
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on November 29, 2011
Brilliant track after brilliant track, it only gets better if you buy Stage Whisper in addition to this album. Also, there now exist several remixes of songs off of this CD, so be sure to look for them on Youtube!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 29, 2010
Irm is an unusual album with a lot of variety. It is probably not for everyone, there is a strong mix of French and English (one song is in French, two others are a mix of French and English, and the remainder in English). Two songs might get radio play, Trick Pony (recently performed on Letterman) and Greenwich. The remainder of the CD is smoky, unusual, sensual, and nowhere near mainstream.

It's only natural to compare Charlotte to her mother, Jane Birkin, and father, Serge Gainsbourg. Charlotte has strong hints of her mother's voice, soft and very sexy. I heard hints of Ex-Fan de Sixties in a few songs (that is a very good thing -Ex Fan des Sixties). She has the sharp edge and twist of phrase of her father. Her music is more polished and easier to digest than her parent's. If you are familiar with Jane Birkin, and like her music; simply purchase this CD, you will not be disappointed.

The album ranges from very nice acoustic guitar and her voice, to full orchestra, to hard edged rock a la Dan Auerbach / Black Keys Rubber Factory. The music is progressive at times and then a throwback to the seventies John Sebastian. But mostly the music is alternative rock / acoustic. The CD is a huge pleasure from start to finish.

An accomplished actress and singer, she is the French version of Zooey Deschanel. Charlotte has much sharper edges singing and acting.
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on January 29, 2010
There is a lot of history behind these two artists (check the other reviews). This is a seamless collaboration to satisfy both fan bases and bring in new fans, as well. If you are looking for new pop music that is intelligent and grown-up, but still cool, you aren't going to do any better than this. It's the first great album of 2010. This thing is distinctive, diverse, catchy, and consistently good from beginning to end. Highly recommended.
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on January 29, 2010
Anyone with a passing familiarity with Charlotte Gainsbourg's work in the medium of both music and film will know that the woman brings a lot of her fathers' eccentricity to the table. It doesn't take a physicist to figure out that her work in Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" was one of the most painful (literally) experiences ever captured on film, yet she went on to render it in an almost blank-faced fashion, dead-panning throughout the movie until its' visceral climactic conclusion.

On "5:55", which I rated rather highly a few years ago, Charlotte worked with a production team that understood that the only way to make her light, spoken-word singing voice work, was to complement it with strings, violins, and quiet piano interludes. Add to this a medium dose of musical experimentation, and an epic was born. "5:55" found and captured something that no other album has been able to since, and it is truly a unique work in more ways than one. From the jangly musical perfection that is "Everything I Cannot See" to the ponderous morbidity of "The Operation", its something best appreciated by lovers of the independent French music scene, of which thankfully I am a subscriber.

Post "Antichrist" and her much publicized accident, Gainsbourg returns with an album that could possibly even perplex Serge. The immediate sense of coherency that heralded "5:55" is missing here, with lead (and standout) track "IRM" setting the tone for a curious oddity, an album where the stakes are higher, the experimentation more visible, and the voice showing absolutely no signs of evolution at all. While Gainsbourg is certainly alluding to her time spent with the magnetic equipment that discerned her injuries at the time, the song itself is an ode to the clunky bit of equipment an MRI machine really is. With Beck at the forefront, one would expect no less, but in stark contrast to lead single from "5:55" ("The Songs that we Sing"), "IRM" is not instantly memorable, and nor is it meant to be. In that context I would readily compare it to Bjork Gudmundsdottir's "Cvalda" from "Selmasongs", or indeed, the entire "Drawing Restraint 9" project by Matthew Barney.

Shades of Jane Birkin crop up on the albums' only real duet (though joint production credits abound elsewhere). "Heaven Can Wait", while sporting a now infamous video, is a somber take on a nursery rhyme gone wrong, and instead works as a silent lamentation on all things lost. Serge Gainsbourg's work towards the end of his career focused on topics such as death, loss, grief and in typical fashion he bounced back from these with jolly ditties written to the follies of love and alcohol. This gene seems to have skipped Charlotte, as she seems even more depressed on "IRM" than she ever has (the album makes her '80s debut "Lemon Incest" seem like a fun day at the circus).

Indeed, the sinister and morbid songwriting only elevate the overall tone of the music, as "In The End", a classic piece of French pop if there ever was one. The track combines the best of the 1960s French yeye stylings with a more British Invasion feel that underscores its' simplicity. But the lyrics! How clever these songwriters were, and Charlotte's airy vocals, often conveying almost nothing, do well in such dark surroundings. Consider this a companion piece to the novella "My Life in Rose Red" and you wouldn't be much off the mark.

M.I.A's contribution is as stellar as Becks, especially on 'Greenwich Mean Time', which is infinitely more adventurous than anything on "5:55" or even on anything else on "IRM". Its moments like these when Gainsbourg lets loose, Yoko Ono style, that a true glimmer of her personality shines through, and its every bit as guarded and disturbed as her lead role in "Antichrist" would let us believe. This is not a pretty, happy record. But it is an essential one, and clearly one of the frontrunners for Album of the Year.

Four and a Half Stars. Indispensable.
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on March 17, 2012
I bought this album after briefly listening to it. I took a chance and purchased it. I am really happy that I bought it. I enjoy the album very much.
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on December 6, 2012
modern soft and amazingly sensual. watch the videos on utube. her voice is like an irish fairy, magical and slyvan.
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