Christine and the Queens’ ‘La Vita Nuova’: EP Review – Variety

With stellar albums from Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek, Selena Gomez and Grimes over the past few months, it’s been a hot stretch for the genre inaccurately but conveniently labelled “alt-pop” — and joining the group is this surprise release from France’s Christine and the Queens, who recently collaborated with two of the above artists.

Her two previous albums were strong, but this EP is arguably Christine and the Queens’ (aka Heloise Letissier) best release to date, a distillation of the incisive and effervescent pop melodies that are a hallmark of all of her work. While it clocks in at just 22 minutes and six tracks (two of which are French and English-language versions of the same song, “I Disappear in Your Arms”), there’s nary a weak moment on the release. It kicks off with the mid-tempo single “People I’ve Been Sad” before picking up the pace with the French version of “Disappear.” She then brings the tempo it back down with the low-key “Mountains” and “Nada” before picking it up again to climax with the title track, a new wave-flavored collaboration with Polacheck that finds the American singer showing off her French while gorgeously entwining her voice with Letissier’s on the chorus.

Throughout, the EP is marked by Letissier’s vocal and songwriting cool — even when the tempos are faster and the energy level is high, there’s a certain effortless ease to her singing and the music. However, the same can’t be said for the 14-minute video that accompanies the EP, which is basically Letissier and her dancers moving dramatically through Paris’ gorgeously baroque Opéra Garnier to the accompaniment of the songs, finishing with a strange vampiric seduction between her and Polacheck on the title track.

While it makes for a rather incongruously intense accompaniment to the EP’s supreme chill, it also shows another side to Letissier’s rapidly developing talent.

 

 

 

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