Air: Talkie Walkie

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Air

Album: Talkie Walkie
Label: Astralwerks

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Having contributed an entire score to The Virgin Suicides and a song to Lost In Translation, Air seems destined to appear on Sofia Coppola's soundtracks for as long as it remains in existence. Nothing wrong with that, but it's too bad Stanley Kubrick didn't stick around long enough to employ the French duo. With backward-looking electronic instruments and a machine-filtered appreciation for classic pop, Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin have created the aural equivalent of a Kubrick film, putting hot passions in cold containers as if fearing that even the hint of warmth would cause it all to go up in flames. Air's second album, 10,000 Hz Legend, took these instincts to the coldest extreme, veering into Kraftwerk territory and bringing in a computer to handle lead vocals on one track. For its third proper album, Talkie Walkie, Air has traded in Legend's underrated iciness for its dreamy, pleasantly chilly earlier efforts. While Talkie Walkie lacks some of Legend's nerve, it makes for a more immediately pleasing experience. "Venus" and "Cherry Blossom Girl" open the proceedings with Air's catchiest tracks since "Sexy Boy," while preserving the drama and distance that make its music distinctive. Driven by sad, wide-eyed vocals and the pattering of ancient-sounding keyboards, both songs invest visions of never-to-be-requited love with a yearning grand enough to reach the stars. To "test their powers of musical telepathy," producer Nigel Godrich has said he instructed Dunckel and Godin not to speak to one another as they recorded Talkie Walkie. If that's true, their telepathy sounds healthily intact. Once again, the duo has created the sounds of isolation, infatuation, and restless romanticism, summoning up undying human feeling with the sound of obsolete machines.

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