“I wanted to write an album that could give justice to being someone complex in the pop world,” the surging French star sometimes known as Héloïse Letissier tells Apple Music. “Pop music is so much recently about trying to simplify narratives, and I was trying to complexify mine. Christine is really me taking your shirt and talking to you really up close. I just want to make sure you actually meet me.”

If you have not yet made her acquaintance, you are about to: Her second album under the name Christine and the Queens takes her alter ego a step further with a bolder, more androgynous iteration named Chris. “The first album was born out of the frustration of being an aberration in society, because I was a young queer woman,” she says. “The second was really born out of the aberration I was becoming, which was a powerful woman—being lustful and horny and sometimes angry, and craving for this will to just own everything a bit more and apologize a bit less.”

While the new album, also named Chris, undoubtedly works as an exploration of identity and sexuality and power—and as self-aware performance art worthy of touchstones like David Bowie and Laurie Anderson—it is also a supremely danceable collection of synth-pop confections that never gets overwhelmed by its messages. “Doesn’t matter” makes something as heavy as questioning the existence of God feel weightless; “Girlfriend,” featuring LA producer/DJ Dâm-Funk, likewise aims for both the hips and the head. “I don’t feel like a girlfriend, but I’ll be your lover,” she says. “The song is basically me trying to steal a bit from the patriarchy. It’s purely empowering out of defiance and wittiness.”

That flair for the dramatic comes naturally to Letissier. “I wanted to be a stage director before I became a pop performer, and writing a record is kind of like staging a huge play in my head,” she says. “This is a mysterious job I have.”