“We have to be friends”—the first song written for PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE—had a profound impact on its author. “I was like, ‘What the hell is going to be this record? This is going to be my awakening,” Chris tells Apple Music’s Proud Radio. “The song was all-knowing of something and admonishing me finally to stop being blind or something. So I started to take music even more seriously and more spiritually.” Even before that track, the French alt-pop talent had begun to embrace spirituality and prayer following the death of his mother in 2019—a loss that also colored much of 2022’s Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue). But letting it into his music took him to deeper places than ever before. “This journey of music has been very extreme because I wanted to devote myself and I went to extreme places that changed me forever,” adds Chris. “An awakening is just the beginning of a spiritual journey, so I wouldn't say I'm there, it would be arrogant. But it's definitely the opening of a clear path of spirituality through music.” After the high-concept, operatic Redcar, this album—a three-part epic lasting almost two hours that’s rooted in (and whose name nods to) Tony Kushner’s 1991 play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, an exploration of AIDS in 1980s America—confirms our arrival into the most ambitious Christine and the Queens era yet. The songs here will demand more of you than the smart pop that made Christine and the Queens famous—but they will also richly reward your attention, with sprawling, synth-led outpourings that reveal something new with every listen. Here, Chris (who collaborated with talent including superproducer MIKE DEAN and 070 Shake) reaches for trip-hop (the Marvin Gaye-sampling “Tears can be so soft”), classical music (the sublime “Full of life,” which layers Chris’ reverbed vocals over the instantly recognizable Pachelbel’s Canon), ’80s-style drums (“We have to be friends”), and the kind of haunting, atmospheric ballads this artist excels at (“To be honest”). Oh, and the album’s narrator? Madonna. “I was like, ‘If Madonna was just like a stage character, it would be brilliant,’” says Chris. “I pitch it like fast, quite intensely: ‘I need you to be the voice of everything. You need to be this voice of, maybe it's my mom, maybe it's the Queen Mary, maybe it's a computer, maybe it's everything.’ And she was like, ‘You're crazy, I'll do it.’” Chris gave the narrator a name: Big Eye. “The whole thing was insane, which is the best thing,” he says. “The record itself solidified itself in maybe less than a month. I was writing a new song every day. It was quite consistent and a wild journey. And as I was singing the song, the character was surfacing in the words. I was like, ‘Oh, this is a character.’ Big Eye was the name I gave the character because it's this very all-encompassing, slightly worrying angel voice, could be dystopian.” For Chris, this album was a teacher and a healer—even a “shaman.” “I discovered so much more of myself and rediscovered why I loved music so hard,” he says. “And it's this great light journey of healing I adore.” It also cracked open his heart. “This record for me is a message of love,” he adds. “It comes from me, but it comes from the invisible as well. Honestly, I felt a bit cradled by extra strength. Even the collaboration I had, this whole journey was about friendship, finding meaning in pain too. It opened my heart.”

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