If the filthy thrust of her last album ‘Chris’ pushed lust right to the fore, ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’ is Christine and The Queens wearing her heart on her satin suit sleeves instead. “It’s true that people I’ve been sad,” she starts, emerging from stuttering autotune to confide more directly. “It’s true that people I’ve been gone.” It’s a neat lyrical throwback to last year’s collaboration with Charli XCX, but here that track’s pent-up instability is redirected towards something softer, and more melancholy.
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This vulnerable facet of Christine and The Queens is matched by warm, yearnful bursts of synthisiser, woven with pitched-down vocals wielded as a melodic tool, and rich waves of acoustic string; think Janet Jackson in full heartbreak mode on ‘Come Back To Me’ colliding with futuristic, glitching manipulation.
Christine and the Queen’s debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ fought to find its place in the world as an outsider, while ‘Chris’ rejected conformity in favour of transgression; this feels different again. After so much self-examination and self-sufficiency, ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’ seems to crave a different kind of connection with another person. “It’s just that me myself and I,” Christine and The Queens sings, “been missing out for way too long.” Despite appearing to address multiple people at first, ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’ gradually ends up talking to just one other figure.
In the bridge – sung in French – a thousand dead thistles sting, sunlight scorches pale skin, and glass pierces into bare feet. Even as the whole world conspires to create countless obstacles, Christine and the Queens’ protagonist is willing to disappear and obliterate herself in order to stay with them. “If you fall apart , then I’m falling behind you,” she sings. “You know the feeling…” It’s a warped and destructive love, encapsulated.