Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Christine and the Queens – I Disappear in Your Arms

And reappearing on the sidebar…


Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Christine and the Queens fascinates me with how she releases music in English and French. An ordinary artist might translate things word-for-word and hope that meaning is preserved, but Chris doesn’t do that. And it’s not because things are lost in translation — although French is her native language, listen to any of her English interviews and you’ll see that she’s more articulate than most native English speakers — it’s because she capitalizes on opportunities to add nuance and complexity. “I Disappear in Your Arms” and “Je Disparais Dans tes Bras” are both about the toxicity of a particular relationship, but the lyrics feel like two different yet interwoven points of view. Sometimes, the imagery of a line is altered slightly but purposefully (English: “Don’t you dare, biting me once again, it already shows” vs. French: “You want to bite without consequence, I’m already bleeding”). Other times, the imagery is different entirely (English: “I guess I need to turn all of these tears into solid gold” vs. French: “You already shine bright on my skin”). Other times still, the perspective of a line is flipped (English: “When I dared to forgive you through my pain, you punished me more” vs. French: “You never forgive others for hurting you”). Even the choruses of the two songs feel completely different: the English version starts with a declaration “You say you love me,” while the French version ruminates: “Could you love me?” It is like watching an already stellar movie, and then watching it again in 3D. There’s so much to compare and unravel, making the two companions an endlessly fascinating listen. 

Scott Mildenhall: In English or French, it’s a wounded riposte, as sharp as its accusations before inevitable sublimation, but the subtle differences give each their own spin. There’s the split between not wanting the whole of a person and wanting something beyond that whole, and there’s the shift from “de l’autre” to “of beauty”, but most interesting is the translation of the title not being reflected in the lyrics. Arms become eyes, surpassing the physical and enhancing the semantic potential. The notion of dissolving selfhood is there in the original, but here it becomes that bit more pointed, and even poetic.

Katherine St Asaph: Love as a threat to autonomy: the tension barely beneath Beyonce’s underrated “Sweet Dreams” and barely beneath this, which echoes the Sasha Fierce track in beat, low, perseverating synth and punctuating whispers. “I Disappear In Your Arms” has melody, but no resolution.

Tobi Tella: Gay version of “walking away from an explosion” music: moody but extremely propulsive. A little stagnant, and I wasn’t nearly as enraptured by the end, but the drama of it all carries it.

Michael Hong: I tend to prefer the lithe Christine, the one who made you feel like you were five feet away from the stage and that she’d never disappear, no matter how tilted the stage was. Everything about “I Disappear in Your Arms” feels like it’s meant to create distance — the way “you love me” suddenly turns into “I doubt it,” and the aggressive shuffle of the beat that pushes her voice further away. By the time Christine lands in the abstract outro, only one part of the title feels true, and it feels like she’s an ocean away.

Alfred Soto: The synths blare like foghorns, the percussion ticks like a metronome, and Christine turns her aqueous self into something fit to hold on to, arms and legs not required. The track itself often disappears. 

Steacy Easton: Languorous and sensuous beats threaten to overtake a chanteuse’s voice. Almost disco, at its slowest and most anxious, the build-up without release has obvious erotic tension. Love here means love, and any number of other promises given and taken away. Extra point for where the track sounds like it is literally releasing steam.

William John: In the surrounds of the dolorous “People, I’ve Been Sad” and the enchanting ululations of “La Vita Nuova” on February’s EP, this track doesn’t command attention in quite the same way, even with its use of a droning “Sweet Dreams” synth. Those are high bars to clear, and there’s something about the way Christine sings, highlighted here in particular with her strident marches onward after an abrupt pause for breath, and her ability to open up crevasses in the song with a sudden bellow, that unavoidably invite the thrill of her live performances into the listener’s mind. Chris has produced a great deal of live-from-the-attic lockdown content, so this escapist vision doesn’t have to remain pure fantasy for those of us with an internet connection. But I get the feeling that this song’s drama will only truly be felt in a darkened room, with Chris facing a group of enraptured strangers, eyes steeled and microphone in hand.

Alex Clifton: Like every other song Chris has released, you can’t just play this once. The beat begs to be looped, and who am I to deny a synth line like that? It’s a lovely display of Chris’s talent for taking sour subjects and turning them into something eminently listenable, turning all these tears to “solid gold” indeed.

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2 Responses to “Christine and the Queens – I Disappear in Your Arms”

  1. I like that me and Wayne both picked up on the same thing, yet none of the same examples. Although having looked at the official lyric video, it seems all three of my examples were misheard (to be honest I can’t actually hear what the video says is there). Might just call it la mort du traducteur.

  2. really good blurb from wayne