On the eve of their first tour, Air commented that the venues they performed in should be prepped in advance by covering the floors with mattresses and turning on soft colored lighting. This was sage advice. Few would argue that their songs are made for rocking. In fact, it’s really more like dreamy, make-out music.
Air caught the world’s attention six years ago with their debut album Moon Safari, which blended new wave, jazz, and pop sensibilities with electronic music to an amazing effect. Next, the group delivered a celestial musical accompaniment to Sofia Coppola’s 2000 debut dazzler, “The Virgin Suicides.” OK. Yet, in 2001 they hit a bit of a slump with a somewhat pretentious follow-up, 10,000 Hz Legend.
Air now has something to prove, evidenced by the time it took to make this album as well as their choice in producer. Manning the boards this time around is much-touted producer Nigel Godrich, the wizard behind such albums as Beck’s Sea Change and every Radiohead album since The Bends.
For the first half of the album they knock it out of the park with every swing. From the unruffled calm of “Cherry Blossom Girl” to “Run” – a shadowy number that sounds like a theme for ghosts waltzing – you can’t help but acknowledge their unrelenting brilliance. They’ve returned with a vengeance, if such a thing can be said about the crafters of such tranquil music.
Unfortunately, reaching the album’s second half is like opening your eyes to the world after a great dream. It’s not that the songs are bad, though a few are somewhat annoying. They simply don’t capture your attention. Nearly all of them sound like glittering ideas that failed to be properly executed.
Though the first five songs of Talkie Walkie are worth the price of admission, one wishes Air maintained their level of quality and delivered another start-to-finish stunner.
[Drew Atkins is merely suggesting Air as good background for tonsil-hockey. Not that he necessarily knows, or anything.]