Album Review: Christine And The Queens – PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE (Because Music)


“The Great Work begins: The Messenger has arrived.”

These words conclude the first instalment of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America – a dramatic work that deeply influenced Christine and the Queens’ newest project PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE. Taking inspiration from the theatrical epic, Chris (also identifying under the name ‘Redcar’) constructs his own queer fantasia, communing with angels in search of revelation. 

Aided by sprawling production, the ‘Chris’ on PATL cannot be contained. He infuses the album with themes of grief, lust and an insurmountable desire for the liberation of self – to embrace the parts of us we keep closeted. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, PATL successfully brings us closer to the artist than we have ever been before. 

Constantly shifting and shedding personas, our narrator finds comfort outside of a contained identity. He sheds the title of ‘daughter’ on “He’s been shining for ever, your son”, subsequently begging to “be a better man”. “Just because you’re born in a specific body, doesn’t mean your soul can’t shine with different lights”, Chris recently told Vulture, and indeed each track sees the artist under a different facet of the spotlight.

Though recently coming out as trans, he clarifies that the creation of the album goes beyond the commodification of ‘queer art’ that can often be the case in the industry, and instead expresses a primary desire to “warp what is constraining”. Consequently, the project feels more like a theatrical performance – a cinematic experience furnished with three acts and multiple features from Madonna, who dons her own persona of ‘Big Eye’ – an omniscient voice that speaks as if God herself is bellowing from the heavens. The listener then becomes part of an audience – privy to an intimate performance with Chris taking centre stage. 

The album also appears progressive with its use of sonics, from the trip-hop inspired “Tears can be so soft” to the more orchestral-based “Full of Life”, that transforms Pachelbel’s Canon into a soaring exposition on conflict and loneliness in the face of desire. In tandem with its theatrical attributes, the album is Chris’ take on a rock opera, culminating in its third and final act. Beginning his descent to earth with the track, “Shine”, ‘Act III’ sees Chris at his most serene and resolved. “We have to be friends” presents our narrator resolving inner turmoil, resolving to “look back and see for yourself” in search of answers. Writing the track is described as a religious experience in itself, a process that felt “administered by a voice that didn’t belong to me in a way I understood”. Instead of fighting against this, he surrenders to this process – to the voice guiding him from above. 

In turn, PATL is Chris’ most devotional and confessional work to date. And though one can easily become lost amidst its expansive sound and lengthy runtime, clarity is soon regained with the crash of a symbol or the drone of a church organ. Moreover, it seems the album proves to be most significant for the artist himself – becoming a vehicle for processing both loss and the rebirth of identity, culminating in the final distorted rumbles of the record’s final moments where Chris emerges triumphant, the glow of his golden halo dwindling in the distance.

PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE will be released via Because Music on June 9th 2023