When your parents are Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, you basically ooze cred instead of eye crusties when you wake up in the morning. Charlotte Gainsbourg is better known as an actress than a singer in her home country of France (with the exception of the kinda gross "Lemon Incest" duet with Papa Serge when she was like 12), and while her various solo albums throughout the year have had a reputation for being somewhat disappointing, she's clearly out for blood this time. Not only did she enlist Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Pavement) as a producer and fellow countrymen Air to compose the songs on 5:55, but her lyrics (sung mostly in English) were penned by none other than Jarvis Cocker of Pulp and Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy. Sounds like a surefire formula, right? Right. "AF607105" is exactly what you'd expect, with Charlotte providing breathy, almost Serge-ian vocals to complement a lush background that could be a lost Air instrumental. "The Operation," on the other hand, was written by Cocker is blatantly Pulpy, albeit a bit more restrained in its instrumentation. For heavier selections, check out the multi-tracked vocals and Velvets-style background strings on "The Songs That We Sing" or the skittering beat of "Little Monsters." For some Sunday morning unwinding, you can't go wrong with the quieter joints like "Morning Song" or "Beauty Mark." The remarkable thing about this album is that it actually shows Charlotte developing a unique voice as an artist, despite everyone's insistence on likening her to her parents, and despite the many friends who had hands in creating the album. Deluxe repress; comes housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve with lovely B&W graphics, CD included. Recommended.
- music label: Because Music 2006 /2015
reviewed by Chris Lemon-Red 12/2006