France's favorite pop pervert, the late Serge Gainsbourg, enjoyed most of his success in the late '60s and '70s. But while his orchestral hits retain their lecherous charm, this tribute comes a decade too late. Maybe it's the roster packed with trip-hop throwbacks (Tricky, Portishead) and Brit-pop's back pages (Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Placebo), but even the strong performances sound dated in a way Gainsbourg's rococo originals don't.
It doesn't help that Gainsbourg collaborators Françoise Hardy and Jane Birkin are squandered, while kids like Franz Ferdinand and Faultline bludgeon the master's delicate oeuvre, or that even sympathetic old-timers Michael Stipe and Marc Almond don't seem to fully connect with the material (the English translations probably don't help). It takes Marianne Faithful, who actually lived inside the seedy world of Gainsbourg's songs, to croak the highlight: a reggae recasting of "Lola Rastaquouère" that undulates like a "stripper on a string." It's a sleazily appropriate tribute that would have left Monsieur Gainsbourg leering wickedly.