Provocative flame-haired diva Mylène Farmer may remain a virtual unknown outside of Europe, but has pretty much reigned as the Queen of Pop in her French homeland since bursting onto the scene in the mid-'80s. Focusing on material from her chart-topping last three studio albums (2005's Avant Que l'Ombre..., 2008's Point de Suture, and 2010's Bleu Noir), this second official retrospective shows that even as she enters her fifties, she's in no mood to relinquish her pop crown just yet. Indeed, there are very few compilations out there able to boast nine number one singles, let alone a staggering consecutive eight, as showcased by a chronological run starting with Moby collaboration "Slipping Away" and ending with the Red One-produced "Lonely Lisa," making her the most chart-topping artist in French history. However, there's more to 2001-2011 than just a remarkable book of stats. The melancholic balladry of "Si J'Avais au Moins" and "Redonne-Moi" reveals that her soprano voice is just as effective as her trademark whispery tones; the bass-driven acid house of "Degeneration" and the squelchy acidic techno of "C'est dans l'Air" are effortlessly convincing ventures into pulsing club-friendly territory; while the controversial war of the sexes-themed "Fuck Them All" and the explicit electro of "Sextonik" prove the "power to shock" comparisons with Madonna certainly aren't without merit. The dreary balladry of "Avant Que l'Ombre..." and the irritating Scooter-esque high-pitched synths on "Oui Mais…Non" show she isn't always so on the ball, while the generic trance-pop of the two brand-new tracks, "Du Temps" and "Sois Moi -- Be Me," indicates Farmer could do with a rethink for album number nine. But while 2001-2011 may struggle to achieve anywhere near the same success as 2001 predecessor Les Mots (France's biggest-selling compilation of all time), it's still a consistently impressive body of work suggesting that those with an aversion to European pop are missing out.
by Jon O'Brien
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