April 14, 2004

Air "Talkie Walkie"

Much has been made of Air's transformation from late 90s sexy boy Eurodisco popstars into austere, mellowed out cinematic-minded musicmakers. It seems that their growth and maturity and insistance on being something more than superficial dance music mkers hasn't been accepted. Their breakthrough Moon Safari was sexy and seductive, but since then they've mellowed out tremendously, creating music that's not meant for the dancefloor. Of course they've ALWAYS been mellow, but that's not the issue here. Air's choices haven't always made sense to the average critic, but bands don't make records just for us, do they?

Air's changes started when they scored The Virgin Suicides. Their earliest records hinted at an interest in making cinematic soundscapes, but in a real-life film setting, the duo of Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin were able to actually focus on making music for the big screen. Oddly enough, Talkie Walkie owes a bit to the Virgin Suicides soundtrack--the 70s pop songs version, not their original score. It's not such a silly notion, though; listening to "Run," it's quite obvious that Air have a love affair with 10cc's "I'm Not In Love." If you're not convinced, tell me, then, doesn't the singing on "Surfing On A Rocket" and "Universal Traveler" sound not unlike Gilbert O'Sullivan?

These similiarities aside, Talkie Walike is just a very nice album to listen to. Sure, they might not be making Moon Safari, Part Two, but why would you want them to retread the past? A band's greatest gift to their fans is growth, and Air's a band who have never feared experimentation. True, not all of their experiments have worked (let's not discuss the poetry album, shall we?), but their successes outnumber their slip-ups. Talike Walkie's soft, sexy "Cherry Blossom Girl" and "Another Day" clearly show that they're perfecting their newly-found cinematic pop sound.

Talkie Walkie is the work of a band who have yet to really settle down into a stylistic groove, and with a track record as theirs, Air is building a legacy for themselves--a legacy filled with excellent records made on their terms, given to a fanbase who expects nothing more than the best. Luckily, Air refuses to let their listeners down, and Talkie Walkie is as excellent a record of downbeat pop as you'll find all year.

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.astralwerks.com
Artist Website: http://www.intairnet.org

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