Charlotte Gainsbourg’s new album is the first she’s written the lyrics for, and, perhaps as a result, gives her voice its broadest palette yet as she tries on different roles: child, ingenue, diarist, diva. There’s creepy nursery rhyme on Ring-a-Ring O’Roses, classic French chanson on Lying With You, trippy sprechgesang on Songbird in a Cage (guest-written by Paul McCartney in full acid mode: “flying through the sky, all our senses reeling”), and disco on Deadly Valentine and Sylvia Says. A few of the melodies that she and producer SebastiAn alight on resolve too neatly, running their course as predictably as a romcom. Equally, it is this firm resolution that makes Les Oxalis and the title track so satisfying – and the latter is the best thing she’s ever done. With a funk bassline muffled as if by goosedown, she finds the heretofore untapped erotic potential of Aled Jones’s Walking in the Air, whose lyrics she quotes in an ASMR-triggering whisper.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas is music editor of the Guardian