Album review

Air : Talkie Walkie
Virgin Records

Air : Talkie WalkieBattling Godzilla, armed only with a toothpick; flying over the Atlantic on a plane piloted by Jade from Big Brother; being forced to listen to that Evanescence album just one more time . . . all stress situations that could easily be difused by just a few lilting seconds from Air's sublime Talkie Walkie. This disc's ability to disipate pent-up agression into a hazy demeanor and a silly grin is rivalled by only a handful of chemical intoxicants, and Talkie Walkie's only side effect is to make you think that the French aren't really that bad after all.

If you're familiar with this Gallic duo's musical high water mark, Moon Safari, Talkie Walkie will be very easy to appreciate. While no clone of their previous work, Talkie Walkie's precise, unhurried and seemingly effortless delivery will be instantly familiar.
    Opener Venus is initially propelled by four simple piano chords and Nicolas Godin and JB Dunckel's sparse and delicate vocals. The underlying simplicity of the song draws you into Air's near horizontal world-view, and is a fabulous preamble to download-only single Cherry Blossom Girl.
    The fastest pace is reserved for the sensuous Surfing On A Rocket. Heavily treated picked guitar helps elevate one of Talkie Walkie's undoubted highlights, and underlines the fact that no one does this stuff quite as well as Godin and Dunckel.

Throughout their career, Air have had strong ties to other forms of artistic expression other than music. In fact, since previous release 10,000 Hz Legend they have scored the reading of Alessandro Barrico's Three Stories novel and Angelin Preljocal's acclaimed Near Life Experience contemporary ballet.
    Talkie Walkie continues the trend with the track Mike Mills gifted to the director of the same name's first feature. Mills is already responsible for helming a number of Air videos, so this is the latest event in an established friendship. Also rekindled is the group's relationship with Sofia Coppola. Closing track Alone In Kyoto has already been featured in award magnet Lost In Translation.

Don't make the mistake of tagging Air as a stereotypical 'chill out' act, or as victims of that ultimate prog-rock folly; scoring films that don't exist. What we have here is a slice of the finest electronic pop; both stylish and beautiful.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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