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Air - Talkie Walkie


Review: Jack Foley

PROGRESSIVE French duo, Air (aka duo Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin) appear to have been caught in something of a creative vacuum of late, struggling to recapture the form which first brought them to attention, in 1998, with Moon Safari, and on the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides.

The good news, however, is that their latest affair, the deeply seductive Talkie Walkie, is a blistering return to form, a beautifully melancholic album that can provide ideal mood music to suit any occasion.

Gone are the pretensions which made 2003’s City Reading (Tre Storie Western), which featured author, Alessandro Baricco, so isolating, replaced instead by the sweeping, dream-like electro-acoustic soundscapes that help the album drift by in an almost effortless fashion.

Clearly buoyed by the presence of frequent Radiohead collaborator, Nigel Godrich, on production detail, Talkie Walkie is an altogether more accessible affair, which quietly entices you to listen to it more and more.

And don’t be surprised to find many of the tunes cropping up as the backdrop to movie soundtracks, or TV montages (much as many of the tracks on Moon Safari did), such is the nature of their appeal.

Alone in Kyoto, especially, has already been picked up by director, Coppola, for use in Lost in Translation, and anyone who has seen that film will find it difficult to displace the memory of a lonely Scarlett Johansson walking through a Japanese temple during the scene it is used in. The track is as serenely beautiful as the scene is viscerally striking, and the two compliment each other perfectly (could it be that Coppola provides the useful inspiration behind much of Air’s best work?).

Elsewhere, the current single, Cherry Blossom Girl, finds Air at their most commercially viable, while still clinging on to their French roots. It is an idyllic tune; not so much spectacular, as quietly affecting and hopelessly catchy.

The same can be said for the quirky Alpha Beta Gaga, which deftly offsets some happy-go-lucky whistling against a slightly more intimidating backdrop, while that same darkness permeates the likes of opening track, Venus, and Run, while making them strangely compelling.

Talkie Walkie isn’t without fault, however, given that the occasional track ventures into the same sort of experimental territory which has troubled some of their more recent efforts, but, on the whole, it is an extremely impressive affair, which has the ability to charm, soothe and inspire in equal measure. Highly recommended.

Track listing:
1. Venus
2. Cherry Blossom Girl
3. Run
4. Universal Traveler
5. Mike Mills
6. Surfin' On A Rocket
7. Another Day
8. Alpha Beta Gaga
9. Biological
10. Alone In Kyoto

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