It has been well documented that the title track of ‘IRM’ (Imagerie par Résonance Magnétique) or MRI in English is based on the noises she heard inside said MRI machine. It probably says a lot about the artist that when faced with being scanned to establish the seriousness of the brain hemorrhage picked up after taking a fall water skiing, Gainsbourg thought —I could make music with this.
Indeed the lyrics “can you see a memory?" "register all my fear" and "tell me where the trauma lies," continue the macabre tone of the track and indeed give an impression of the moody overtones of the album in general.
Another moody although less dark track is Le Chat du Café des Artistes (above) a cover of Jean-Pierre Ferland’s classic. Gainsbourg’s trademark hushed and sexy tones, the piano chords and sweeping strings give an ominous almost film-noir soundtrack impression. And as a fan of another of the song’s incarnations, this time the French DJ Gut’s version, this is one of the best tracks on the album for me.
Other tracks such as ‘Vanities’ whip up a dreamy atmosphere with other worldly harps and orchestra sections quietly battling against each other
Then there are the songs like ‘Master’s Hands’ ‘Me and Jane Doe’ and ‘Heaven Can Wait’ which giveaway the influences and presence of American star Beck in the role of producer. And this is no bad thing, they are all pleasing and cleverly arranged pop songs with a definite leaning towards an acoustic sound.
And changing tracks entirely and literally ‘Looking Glass Blues’, ‘Trick Pony’ and ‘Greenwich Mean Time’ offer up an unashamedly indie rock vibe but even these cannot help but continue the theme of a kind of sexy moodiness which feels inherent across the entire album.
Charlotte Gainsbourg has never quite had the level of recognition she deserves in the UK despite being a popular musical figure in her native France and the States. She certainly can’t be accused of simply riding on the coat tails of her infamous Father Serge especially after her collaborations with electronic efficandos Air but maybe IRM — with its ‘something for everyone’ appeal will be the album to introduce her to British music fans.