British-French chanteuse and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg returns to music nearly seven years on from her last album, a live collection entitled Stage Whisper. For Rest, she enlisted the likes of Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Owen Pallett and Paul McCartney to create a mostly downtempo bilingual record punctuated by bursts of disco and pop. The record is Gainsbourg's attempt to chronicle her life as well as work through the grief of her sister's death. This is her first time writing the majority of the lyrics on an album, which lends crucial vulnerability to the songs.
Rest strikes a balance between sombre beauty and a mix of Euro disco, funk and pop, allowing Gainsbourg to cover a lot of emotional territory. The first half of the album is supported by well-chosen singles "Deadly Valentine" and the title track; the former features an enthralling chorus with cascading strings, Gainsbourg's bedroom whisper repeating, "With this ring I thee wed with all my worldly goods I thee endow / To love and to cherish according to God's holy ordinance." There is a filmic quality to the tense disco bass line that juxtaposes nicely with lyrical imagery of a wedding ceremony, making for a beautiful yet dark pop song.
"Rest," meanwhile is hypnotizing and cyclical, as Gainsbourg sings, "reste avec moi, s'il te plait" over stripped-back instrumentation, a haunting combination of electronic keys and bass. Her spoken word is intimate, as she depicts the scene: "We're walking in the air / We're walking in the moonlight sky."
The surprisingly funky "Sylvia Says" shows Gainsbourg right at home in the pop world, an infectious groove and big synths elevating its chorus. Its sister song, "Les Oxalis," caps off the album, its beats recalling the sound of Phoenix's Ti Amo.
The pacing of Rest and the length of its songs make it a grower of an album that, over time, ensconces listeners in the sonic layers and personal lyricism of Gainsbourg. She's lived much of her life in the public eye, yet is only now really exposing her compelling internal journey. (Because)