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My Review of Une Enfant du siècle (English)

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NOTE: This was originally posted 10 May 2010 on my own independent fashion/music blog, "Midnight in a Perfect World" which can be viewed here. For everyone else, read on...

Another week is upon us, so let's start it off with another edition of « Le lundi musique » !

Today, I figured I would actually review a recently released album in my collection, Une Enfant du siècle by Alizée.

Oui ! I'm reviewing an album that is 98% French, 1.25% English and .75% Spanish.

Je sais, je sais. I know I don't speak Spanish and know very little French, but if the BBC can review Rammstein's latest without knowing a lick of German, pourquoi pas moi avec Alizée ?

Une Enfant du siècle is Alizée's fourth studio album and fifth overall. It also is her second album since parting ways with Mylène Farmer and Laurent Boutonnat back in 2003 in order to do more personal work, this time around with nearly the entire roster of French electronic music label Institubes. The album itself is a concept album based around the life of Edie Sedgwick, a socialite, model and actress who was a large part of artist Andy Warhol's Factory scene in the mid-to-late 1960s, eventually succumbing to a drug overdose at the age of 28 in November of 1971.

"Eden, Eden" starts things off on a idyllic and somewhat sunny note, which may be interpreted as how Edie may have seen her life in New York just coming out of a tumultuous past in California. This dreamlike state continues into the next song, "Grand Central," a song that on its own would be a great cloudy day song for walking around the city and exploring all it has to offer.

Alas, things take a turn for the dark from this point forward--note that this is not necessarily a bad thing in this case--starting with "Limelight," the only song on UEdS that is sung in English from start to finish. Here, the "limelight" shining upon Edie--or, rather, the Edie Alizée is acting as here--might be having a rather adverse effect on her psyche, as noted in the breakdown near the end of the track where the first four words are the external forces acting, in the second four words, to tear Edie apart.

"La Candida," which is the sole Spanish song and written especially for her fans in Mexico, where her largest fanbase outside of Alizée's native France resides, can be seen as Edie feeling betrayed by fame and the people who gave fame to her in much the same way a wayward lover betrays their companion, setting the stage for the darkness to come.

We then come to the first single from UEdS, "Les Collines (Never Leave You)," which illustrates the ramifications of that betrayal and Edie's feelings towards New York and the fame the city brought to her, while "14 Décembre"--from the first verse at least--demonstrates how Edie copes with her fame.

"? C?ur Fendre" is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, though the lyrics relate to a broken heart after doing everything the individual--Edie or someone else, I cannot say for sure here--did for the other.

And finally we come to the last moments of Edie's life, beginning with the most gothic track on UEdS, "Factory Girl," which--with a few tweaks here and there--would actually be right at home with Elizium-era Fields of the Nephilim continuing through "Une Fille Difficile," something Edie may have been to some, and closing with "Mes Fantômes," a song that sounds a lot like "La Candida" (both were written by Robin Coudert) and can be viewed as Edie's ghosts coming to take Edie "home."

In summary, Alizée has created an album that has effectively closed the door on the first 10 years of her career and her image as a "Lolita" character--in reality, she was far from that character as one could get. This Alizée, via Edie Sedgwick, as well as her experiences shaped by motherhood and marriage, is more subdued, more mature and, yet, more alluring than in years past. Her voice, a low contralto compared to some of her higher-voiced peers, matches well with the electronic and new wave sounds provided by Institubes.

Why should you get Une Enfant du siècle ? If you love Alizée, have followed her career and stuck by her, or are new and love all that she's done, this is for you. If you love French pop, French electronica and/or music with depth, <em>UEdS</em> is for you, too.

Why should you not get Une Enfant du siècle ? If you preferred Alizée when she was, more or less, the French Britney Spears, and want her to go back to Mylène et Laurent, then this is one more album of hers to pass upon.