Aside from her roles in indie films like The Science of Sleep and Melancholia, Charlotte Gainsbourg's real life has been chockablock with drama as of late, including the birth of her third child and a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. As the child of swinging 1960s icons Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, she's no stranger to intrigue and tragedy. If Stage Whisper is any indication, she's learned how to milk every last drop from the most painful situations.
Like her previous album, 2009's critically lauded IRM, Stage Whisper is shaped by eerie yet effervescent vocals, stylized electro-pop backdrops, and Beck's production prowess. Though it's a collection of IRM leftovers and recordings from live performances, fans will find plenty to embrace. Gainsbourg filters her dad's characteristic sleaziness through a web of fuzzy feedback and pulsating electronic bass lines on the opening track, "Terrible Angels," then melts away the tension with "White Telephone," a meditative number filled with harps, violins and a choir of oohs and aahs.
The live portion of the record gives a sense of her stage presence, which shines when she doesn't try too hard. While "Just Like a Woman" doesn't re-create the magic of Bob Dylan's original, dark and dancey numbers like "IRM" and "Trick Pony" let Gainsbourg slink through the musical stomping grounds of Goldfrapp and Karen O.