Genderfuck. It’s a great word, used less in the age of the more neutral “gender fluid.” Héloïse Letissier continues to toy with perceptions of masculinity and femininity on her just-released sophomore record, the new Christine and the Queens album Chris, right down to its stylishly androgynous cover, and she loves the disorientation.
“I enjoy this confusion,” she has said. “Héloïse? Christine? Chris? Maybe I will be called C at some point. Well, Chris is just the shorter version of Christine, so most of my friends have called me Chris for a while. It’s way more efficient.”
The Nantes, France-born performer, on the back of her debut Chaleur Humaine (and its English-language counterpart), went from indie pop buzzword to international star. New Christine and the Queens album Chris is primed for global dominance. And everything fresh in our discovery of the debut — the warm and icy electropop, the explorations of sexuality and romance — are better here. Bolder, brutally honest, muscular, much like her sinewy transformation.
“The first album was born out of the frustration of being an aberration in society, because I was a young queer woman,” Letissier says. “The second was really born out of the aberration I was becoming, which was a powerful woman — being lustful and horny and sometimes angry, and craving for this will to just own everything a bit more and apologize a bit less.”
There’s nothing to apologize for here. Her love of Michael and Janet Jackson is front and center on the first single “Girlfriend (feat. Dâm-Funk)” and the erotica of “Feel So Good.” The scars of teenage bullying manifest on the mid-tempo electronic rumination of “What’s-Her-Face.” She questions religious tyranny with “Doesn’t Matter” and brings squelchy funk to the empowered “Damn (What Must a Woman Do).”
While Chris tackles some serious subject matter, Letissier never forgets the capacity for joy at the heart of all great pop music. She can crystallize her experiences and pains and triumphs inside three perfect minutes and, when the mood is upon her — as it is throughout this blissful second release — she can have us all dancing to it.
The new Christine and the Queens album Chris is out today.
Images by Jamie Morgan