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Charlotte Gainsbourg: Stage Whisper 

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If there's a group more likely to make terrible records than the offspring of rock stars, it's actors. Charlotte Gainsbourg just so happens to fall into both categories. She's the daughter of (in)famous French songwriter-actor-director Serge Gainsbourg and British actress-singer Jane Birkin, and an accomplished actress on her own right (starring in The Science of Sleep, the Dylan-biopic I'm Not There and, more recently, Lars Von Trier's Melancholia). She also proves herself an exception to the rule by being a damn fine musician, a fact she further proves on her fourth full-length release. Cobbled together from studio leftovers from 2009's Beck-produced IRM and live material captured during that album's subsequent tour, Stage Whisper can have an unsubstantial feel despite its bulky two-disc format. The sparse, simple electro-pop tunes with unassuming melodies grow on you but don't quite reward the patience they require. The live disc is the real attraction, packing the energy and immediacy missing from the studio material. Though Stage Whisper likely won't make any of the 3,000 year-end "best of" lists, it's a fine, occasionally very interesting listen, and a verification that Gainsbourg is an artist worth keeping an ear on.

★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars)

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