There’s a scene in the 1958 Musical Gigi in which, two by two, couples enter Maxim’s, a restaurant where everyone minds his own business. Or so we are told. As the couples enter, the patrons bitch; their private thoughts become public, shared.
The scene inspired Julia Holter to write Maxim’s I:
Well I think what was interesting to me about that scene in the musical is just the way that everyone is chanting and how creepy it is…and cool and weird, especially for a mainstream Hollywood musical. There was something kind of creepy about that scene that I wanted to bring out…and the way everything suddenly is quiet, and then it gets loud again–it had these different elements I wanted to bring out and it had an interesting dynamic between people. Also, I was excited to write about society, societal dynamics, as opposed to like, being so much in my head as I had been on previous records. This probably doesn’t make as much sense if you haven’t watched Gigi lately.
The song is shimmering, yet disconcerting; beautiful, yet sinister. Waves of cymbals wash over the intro and outro; its parts complement the scene that inspired it: sections of lush orchestration separated by an eerie middle passage.