Air, Talkie Walkie, released 2004 by Astralwerks
2) Cherry Blossom Girl
4) Universal Traveler
5) Mike Mills
6) Surfing On A Rocket
7) Another Day
8) Alpha Beta Gaga
10) Alone In Kyoto
Air is a couple of French guys who make gentle, pleasant synth pop on their release Talkie Walkie. Most of the instruments are the beeps and boops of synthesizers and supported by drum kits, with a bit of piano and acoustic guitar. Their music filled with surprising but satisfying harmonic progressions, and their best songs feature surprisingly elusive rhythms and patterns. I tend not to pay as much attention to lyrics as many people, but even I have to point out that their lyrics are a bit silly, which I find charming but others might find insipid; my favorite couplet is, “Five, four, three, two, one, zero; no one can stop me to go”.
Two of my favorite tracks, “Mike Mills” and “Alone In Kyoto” were inspired by movies in one way or another; Mike Mills (not the R.E.M. member) filmed a documentary on Air, and I believe “Alone In Kyoto” was composed for Lost in Translation. “Venus”, another favorite, always feels rhythmically stilted even though it’s in a straight 4/4, which is a really neat sensation. While none of the other songs stand out, none are particularly objectionable either; though some are certainly more fun than others.
So. Talkie Walkie isn’t a terribly exciting album to listen to, but it’s mellow and engaging. It’s spacey, drifty music that’s very well-crafted and meticulously produced; kind of like if the Beach Boys were strung out on opium and didn’t speak English. I imagine that I’m in an incredibly low-key go-go club when I hear it.
The least helpful thing I can say is that Talkie Walkie is how I expected Stereolab to sound.