Thursday, July 26th, 2018

Christine and the Queens – Doesn’t Matter

Coming very close to being Christine and the Queens of 2018…


Vikram Joseph: Some songs merely build momentum; “Doesn’t Matter” climbs to 35,000 feet and holds its cruising altitude with all the poise and grace of a Concorde. Maybe from all the way up there things makes more sense; there are demons to be battled here – ghosts, the void, “the suicidal thoughts that are still in my head” – but in the resoluteness of its rhythm and the cresting, citrus-sour waves of synth, Heloise Letissier tries to find some perspective. “It doesn’t matter, does it?” is less nihilism than just a coping mechanism, a deflection – the giveaway is “Uh, forget I said it,” a sharply recognisable moment of trying to force feelings back into a pressurised container. In its quiet, elegant desperation, “Doesn’t Matter” reminds me of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”; I feel that “Oh no, I’ve said too much / I haven’t said enough” comes close to mirroring the dilemma the protagonist faces here. Like Michael Stipe, Letissier forges beauty from her personal agonies; the soaring, interweaving melodies of the last 90 seconds of this are stunning.

Rebecca A. Gowns: Absolute poetry. An anthem for the times, as piercing and resonant as “Once in a Lifetime,” with the musical power of Haim x10 (30 Haim sisters). So good it hurts.

Eleanor Graham: In stark contrast to “Girlfriend”‘s playfulness, “Doesn’t Matter” sees Letissier pushed to the very edge of reason, but never losing her thrilling lightness of touch. Like Cardi B and Nabokov, she is a non-native English speaker who cracks open whole new possibilities in the language. Set against minimal synths, the muttered prayer “and if I could just push this door chalked on the wall/and if after the void there’s somewhere else to fall” is utterly exhilarating.

Josh Love: Between “Girlfriend” and now “Doesn’t Matter” I’m definitely getting the feeling Christine’s forthcoming album is going to be the one for 2018 that scratches my itch for androgynous 80’s-inspired dance-pop, joining the pantheon alongside the likes of MUNA, La Roux, and The Knife/Fever Ray. The two songs are excellent complements to each other too, “Doesn’t Matter” all low-slung slinky where “Girlfriend” was sparkly and spunky.

Thomas Inskeep: Electro rather than electro-soul, so not as good as previous single “Girlfriend,” still one of my favorites of the year. But I dig the cheerleader-chant rhythm (very “Mickey”), and Chris’s vocal style gets further and further under my skin. I suspect this album’s gonna be really, really fine.

Alex Clifton: It’s been a while since I’ve heard crisis sound so catchy. One of the reasons I like it is precisely the tension between the lyrics and the backing — these are thorny topics Chris is dealing with, but that bassline just wedges itself in your head to the point that it mimics the nature of obsessive and crushing thoughts. “Rage as a fabric” is so potent: the idea of wearing rage publicly (and also how it can “unravel” you) is something we’ve all been grappling with over the past couple of years. If only the world could look as good as this sounds.

Katherine St Asaph: I keep a mental list of short, perfect moments in songs, one of which is the little swell and snap after “strange attraction” in ABBA’s “I Am the City.” “Doesn’t Matter” is like that couple seconds stretched to song length — which sort of demonstrates why they should remain short moments. The bridge is great but comes a minute too late.

Will Adams: Yes, the French version is once again superior, and yes, the moments when the track reaches for the delicateness I loved in Chaleur Humaine are too brief. But sweeping, existential dancepop will always get a green light from me.

Josh Winters: The beauty of music as an artistic medium is how, in its greatest potential, an expression of the soul manifests as an all-encompassing transference of energy from the creator to the listener, and how this action arouses the intersection between the cerebral, the physical, and the emotional. You feel it in the way it takes over your entire being: how intrinsic rhythms can suddenly make you feel like you can sprint breathlessly until you fall to your knees, how racing thoughts can cause you to spin yourself into a frenzy, how spiritual release can lift you up from the earth and bring you closer to the divine. To be able to embody and communicate such a simple truth may have to involve a long day’s journey into the night, but what one finds once you’re finally coming out of the dark is as enormous and expansive as the entire universe.

Jonathan Bradley: The unnatural emphases in the chorus (“if I know a-NY e-XIT”) bounce against the melody, standing in counterpoint to the harsh synthetic drums stutters spitting intermittently into the mix. “Lately the only people I can stand,” Chris sings, “are the unraveled ones with their hands laid bare.” The rest of the lyric is filled with unsettling images of “rage as a fabric,” a “ribbon-legged” woman and sunlight that comes in shards, but the synths do the real unravelling, evanescing anything earthly from the song.

Dorian Sinclair: There’s quite a lot to love about “Doesn’t Matter,” particularly if, like me, you’re someone who had MUNA’s About U as one of their favourite albums last year. The part of the song that sticks with me most, though, is a small and subtle thing — during the bridge, after an entire song where the production is nothing but synth-and-drum, an acoustic piano manages to creep in right at the bottom of the mix before taking greater prominence in the final repetition of the chorus. It’s a tiny, tiny detail, but something about it really takes the song to the next level for me and cements it as a favourite of the year so far.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I suspect that if I read the lyrics to this on their own, without the masterfully tense beat (really just a low hum of bass and a dance rhythm) or Chris’ vocal performance, which balances passion and worry and yearning and a dozen more emotions even in individual syllables, it would feel like too much empty and disconnected philosophizing. But when “Doesn’t Matter” hits you, it erases any of those concerns — the way it crests in the bridge and outro, as “shards of sunlight” refract through the phrasings, is the highest philosophy of all.

Reader average: [8.16] (12 votes)

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7 Responses to “Christine and the Queens – Doesn’t Matter”

  1. “Like Cardi B and Nabokov” has made my week

  2. same, I feel like once a month I post something like “your writing is really good” but it’s really good

  3. I like this but don’t love it. Seems like a definite “grower not a shower” because I think there’s a song I love in there.

  4. thank you, i’m here all week

  5. Cardi B was born and raised in the Bronx though? My understanding is she spoke a lot of Spanish (and different flavors of Spanish) a lot growing up, but comparing her to Nabokov and a Nantes native seems off the mark.

  6. that’s fair, it’s not a perfect comparison. cardi has said that spanish is her first language, hence why she sprang to mind as another writer who makes particularly innovative and resonant use of english precisely bc it’s her second or third

  7. I stand corrected! Thanks for indulging me.

    (On first listen I prefer the mostly-French version of “Doesn’t Matter” to the all-English one.)