Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE is a sprawling odyssey embellished with Christine and the Queens' epic theatrics and artful references


Release date: 09 June 2023
Christine and The Queens - Paranoia, Angels, True Love cover
06 June 2023, 09:00 Written by Tanatat Khuttapan

Christine and the Queens is beyond eager to sail into this new, exciting chapter of his career.

Earlier this year, Chris dressed up as his alter ego Redcar, performing every song on his previous album Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) with such intensity that every movement he made sharply conveyed the ache of fear and longing. The record served its purpose well: a prologue, quiet and unobtrusive, setting the stage for a grander, more monumental act. A self-reinvention could be foreshadowed by these subtle shifts in sound and storytelling – the melodies more mellow and slow-burn, lyrics more distant and abstract. His musical identity is transforming into new shapes, and we’re here to witness it in real-time.

The latest offering, titled PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE, is his largest, most ambitious album to date, spanning over an hour and a half. It’s as enthralling and enigmatic as the tales of the mystique, embellished in epic theatrics and artful references. Part of its glory is attributed to one of America’s greatest plays, Angels in America, from which Chris took inspiration. The main themes of the play – prophecy, escapism, tragedy, and change – also appear on the record as he dives into the waters of loss, identity, and, of course, true love. Each of these subjects reserves an expansive “section” of its own, resulting in the record having 3 total acts, like an actual play in the theatre.

Sprawling and deeply passionate, the music drifts effortlessly into seraphic soundscapes as Chris warbles about his troubles: more theatrical and slow-paced than it is bombastic and ear-catching. With infectious, dancy hooks traded for meditative yet at times eruptive atmosphere setters, PARANOÏA may steer the audience’s attention more towards the lyrical content and his elastic, hard-hitting voice, but the music itself never loses its significance as the narrative’s propeller. “A day in the water”, for example, has swirling synths behind his reverberating singing, words and phrases like “father” and “let me be” echoing, each time reinforcing the message of the song: expectations and grief heft off, and he’s free.

This project is massive, a sprawling odyssey that centres on the life of a person who is so in love yet, at the same time, so in despair. The thunderous riffs, angelic piano drips, and glitz of transcendental synths, which Chris concocted with Mike Dean, bring PARANOÏA forward not just as a record with 18 tracks, but also as a musical play rich with poetic and elaborate observations of human nature, even if some of which are considered more of an individualistic viewpoint. Like Angels in America, whose tormented characters seek shelter, a place to escape and cater to their desires, Chris embarks on a journey, skittering away from grief and its poignant suppression. “Angels of light, take me higher / Make me forget my mother,” he sings after a deeply vulnerable confession: “I need you to love me.”

A vast, ever-stretching platform that is PARANOÏA, Chris sets his artistic spirit free by broadening his musical scope, covering as many influences and genres as he deems fit. The tracks here morph from one form to another, becoming a spectrum that fuses electronic balladry with maximalist pop music. On the 11-minute “Track 10”, Chris cries “Sweet lover of mine!” over Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Lucky Man” sample, the potions of love in full effect. He’s so choked up by the alluring scent, the sweet, hypnotising moves of his lover, that he ascends to a realm lush with sparkly, hazy colours. His voice rises skyward along with the fervent drums, the resplendent choir gliding just behind him. Spoken words on 90s New York and his predecessors spill later into the song – shifting, fluid, monumental, mercurial. It’s unarguably his most impressive song yet.

Madonna, omnipresent as ever, joins Chris as the Big Eye on the terrific “I met an angel”, where he tackles with overwhelming sorrow. “Terrestrial food is of no importance now,” she coaxes him, destruction kicking under, ready to wreck his soul. His longing is immense, and he finds transient solace in believing that his mother is still with him in other forms. “She’s in the singing stream / She’s in the cats’ and the dogs’ eyes,” he sings with determination, tides of electric guitar gushing over him. “In the birds falling up from the trees.” She appears again on “Lick the light out”, in which Chris finally regains his footing, accepting his fragile state of mind, Madonna’s perilous voice disappearing as a result.

But before this revelation, 070 Shake accompanies him as he succumbs to indulgences bigger than himself on “True love” and “Let me touch you once”, the latter being one of the most sensual, enticing pieces on the record. Here his voice twists, bends, flexes out, spattering “I’m your man” and “parles-tu français ?” as if lost in a fog tinged with substances. Fortunately, this stage doesn’t last long; songs that follow slowly see him recuperating and finding himself once again: a glorious metamorphosis. In the end, Chris arrives at “Big eye”, the operatic 7-minute conclusion to the 3-act record. Over the uproar of jolting strums and strings, he claims that his word is his sword. To love with one’s whole heart, he discovers, is to “recreate it all, and forgive it all”.

What PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE truly is lands on this very line; elegant, soft, full of introspective meanderings, it offers its author a place to recreate and forgive, grieve and lavish. Poetry, for him, is a sword to slant every gasp of pain and suffering, and this record proves how much he’s devoted to it: metaphorical verses that mirror those of Kate Bush’s, draped in Björk’s eccentric, melodious production. Indeed, PARANOÏA isn’t without flaw; some tracks work more as spoken poems than as songs due to their slack, unmoving instrumentation. But at almost 100 minutes, Chris’ most astounding work yet expands his craftsmanship to territories surprisingly well-suited for him. He grips on to hope as angels do to their wings, and it’s unlikely that he’ll ever let go.

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