PARANOÏA ANGELS TRUE LOVE by Christine and the Queens album review by Sam Franzini for Northern Transmissions



Christine and the Queens

To describe Christine and the Queens’ new project, PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE, the word ‘album’ isn’t really sufficient. Spanning 20 tracks and almost 100 minutes, drawing on the themes of his mother’s recent death and Tony Kushner’s award-winning play Angels in America, positing Madonna as an all-seeing ‘Big eye’ that narrates each of the record’s three parts, the French pop star’s conceptual album is more of a haunting experience than anything else.

After his mother’s death in 2019, the artist known as Christine and the Queens began seeing red cars everywhere, and he believed it was a call from beyond the grave. After documenting his journey with gender identity last year and changing his name to Redcar, his album Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) was more of the same that Christine and the Queens is known for – synthy alt pop, now with a new persona. But even listening to the first track on PARANOÏA…, it’s clear he’s in an entirely different realm.

PARANOÏA… is a heavy, deep piece of work. Broken into the three parts exemplified by its title, a constant throughline is the introduction of Madonna, who acts as an angel talking to Redcar. She’s first introduced in “Angels crying in my bed”, but her purpose is most clear in “I met an angel”, where she says, “This is the voice of the big simulation / Just let go of any pressure in your body / The terrestrial food is of no importance now.” Redcar, after hearing the angel’s advice, sings, “I fell in love with an angel / She appeared and then tore up my whole world.” Later, in the third act, she appears on “Lick the light out”, where Redcar is imbued with the angel’s words and responds, “I’m an angel in power / I decided to see you as a human, as a flower,” the outro of the song being one of the most triumphant and joyous parts of the whole record.

The album, for the most part, is claustrophobic and somewhat abrasive. “Track 10”, the longest on the record, is a rambling, almost improvisational ode to a lover whose guitar licks make it feel as if it’s tumbling toward an unknown destination. “Marvin descending” starts gorgeously, with lyrics of a man spiritually entering Redcar’s body, and then descends into a crashing, instantly catchy and daringly loud drum solo. “Tears can be so soft” is a hazy, trip-hop ode to his late mother, including other aspects of his life that he misses like his joy, friends, and tenderness. It’s a dip into alternative R&B that Redcar seems oddly suited for, a sense of momentum building through the whole track. Lightning bolts permeate the last half of “True love”, featuring 070 Shake, as Redcar pleads to a higher power to take away the pain he feels when reminiscing on his mother.

Amongst such innovative work, though, there are some drastically simple tracks that don’t seem to fit in with the overall mood at all. “Flowery days” is a small ballad that goes nowhere and repeats a lilting refrain to little effect, and “Full of life” interpolates “Canon in D Major” — the wedding song — to sing about loneliness. Though Redcar’s voice is great and dynamic on the song, interpolating a song so directly opposite to the lyrics’ meaning is, for lack of a better word, corny. Less egregious missteps include “Shine” and “Aimer, puis vivre”, which go on when other, more innovative tracks could have been lengthened instead, and even “Track 10” starts to seem as if it were made up on the spot at several parts during its 11-minute runtime.

PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE is a truly inventive work, calling to mind conceptual music like Perfume Genius’ Ugly Season last year. It’s a powerful testament to the power of healing through writing music and Redcar’s ability to take several ideas and pack them into one genre-bending and thoughtful experience. PARANOÏA… gets weighed down by its delicate balance of ideas and runtime, but there likely won’t be another album like it this year.

order PARANOÏA ANGELS TRUE LOVE By Christine and The Queens HERE


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