Héloïse Letissier presents the name of a band that marks more her creative origin rather than the members of her band, which consists of just herself. In fact, her performances are striking in that her dancers form her family, and together they meld in the most natural passionate way. This is not a performer that dances whilst she sings, Christine sings whilst she dances. The debut album titled Chaleur Humaine which translates as human warmth begins with the songs iT, Saint Claude and Christine which all feature heavy beats enticing you to nod your head to the electro pop genre that has been ascribed to her. The sounds are echoic, metallic and heavy on the treble. These opening tracks have simple melodies of a few notes with similar sounds to the flute, steelpan drums or strings. These samples provide a stage for Héloïse’s beautifully harmonious voice. She speaks in French and English with the occasionally fast paced rapping but maintains an organised meter throughout, with ample time for her to showcase her movements. Watching her music videos for Saint Claude and Twisted it is easy to admire her ability to dance and how perfect her songs are for rhythmic footwork. This certainly appears to be an important part of her craft as Twisted features just her alone dancing on a platform.
As the album progresses it turns in a couple divergent directions as the metal work echo turns into a fast paced space tune called Science Fiction, held together by her repetitive calls to the great unknown. Paradis Perdus is an homage to Kanye West as it covers Heartless with great aplomb. The acoustic and distant notes feature Christine almost wailing in grief at the loss of love and the song withers away to its base sample on the piano. A complete deconstruction of something once so complex into almost nothing at all. It is quite befitting of the lyrics, potentially more so that the original. The latter half of the album features more layered songs of similar electronic disposition, ranging from the more poppy up beat Half Ladies to the sombre and pained expositions of Ugly-Pretty. The stand out songs that negate the head bobbing for a more sombre scaffold are the title track Chaleur Humaine and Nuit 17 à 52. This is where Héloïse really begins to shine with her voice, as these slower songs with the acoustic notes of steel and string build to joyous crescendos. The lyrics to Chaleur Humaine abrogate the superficialities of love and rejoice in the kindness and warmth of the soul whereas Nuit 17 à 52 deconstructs relationships leaving only vulnerability to one another. The choruses are louder and more emotional providing empathy and comfort, soothing your ails and beckoning you to come closer.
Héloïse love of dance is clear to all but as the music moves onto the pain of lost love and disdain of superficial falseness, you can bear witness to an autobiography. Her origins are that of a retreat from the pain of a broken romance into the arms of drag queens in London. It was there she became Christine and the Queens, accepted her own talents and flaws and became the creative talent she is now. Her whole mantra is of being yourself and the implausibility of perfection. Her performance at Glastonbury echoes these sentiments as she asks you to do the same. A tattoo on her right forearm reads “We Accept You”. Her rapid rise to celebrity status in France is surely to be emulated in the UK and it begs the question of how she will maintain this ethos in the face of the multiple plaudits she is sure to receive. Christine and the Queens bring an impressive debut album providing an electric synth based music that not only makes you dance but then welcomes you, as you are, with love and kindness.