Catherine Ringer: Ring N' Roll
Following the death of Fred Chichin in 2007, Catherine Ringer carried on. Together, as Les Mitsouko, they'd recently released their seventh album Variéty. In early 2008 Ringer carried on with the tour, billing it as Catherine Ringer sings Les Rita Mitsouko and more. Even so, the arrival of her first solo album is a surprise because after that, beyond archive trawls, there was silence.
We didn’t know that Variéty’s producer Mark Plati had encouraged Ringer to continue writing and recording. Between then and now Ringer recorded what’s collected on Ring n' Roll. The album has 12 tracks; apparently 17 were recorded. Three are produced by Plati. Virtually all the composition's credits are hers. The dark 'Punk 103' features Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, who co-produces 'Prends-Moi' with Ringer. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante crops up on 'Prends-Moi', as do (on five cuts) members of Wu-Tang cohorts Stone Mecca. But the album is firmly Ringer's. It’s her sound.
Les Rita Mitsouko inevitably cast a shadow, as does Chichin. 'Z Bar' and 'Quel Est Ton Nom' could slot into latter day Les Rita Mitsouko albums. Chichin is explicitly present on 'Mahler', where Ringer sings of his face, his hands, him holding her and loss, over Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. This is the affecting requiem she didn’t give voice to in 2007. It is explicit, and Ring n' Roll is explicit elsewhere. 'Prends-Moi' is sexually so, and 'Got It Sweet' is too, but with a more distanced, almost ironic, language: “your light is shining in me, overflowing as you dig me deep”. It’s impossible to listen to Ring n' Roll without looking for meaning.
Ring n' Roll is sequenced to break the moods the songs set, jarring the ears. The syncopated opener 'Vive L’Amour' is followed by 'Punk 103' with its slurred, dark backing. Then, it’s the upbeat, light-toned 'Z Bar'. Ring n' Roll’s sudden swings make it sound as though it’s in turmoil. It’s also got some hot tunes: 'Z Bar' is for singing along with and 'Quel Est Ton Nom' is almost a rock anthem. “Mahler” is followed by the glitchy, upbeat orchestral fantasia 'Rendez-Vous', where Ringer coos like an off-beam opera singer. Closing the album with this title and this lift in mood points to where she’s going. Somewhere positive.