After disappointing fans with their followup to Moon Safari
, 2001's 10,000 Hz Legend
, Air was more determined to release another ambient masterpiece with Talkie Walkie
, and to do that they had to abandon the over experimentation, and go the more listless, less ambitious route.
is an ambient dance record which exists on a seperate plane than it's peers. The album is minimalistic, and spacey, and Air is able to use that as an asset rather than a hinderance, as every single sound is critical to the feel of the song. The songs lack depth, and many can be written off as pretty pop tunes, but there is something special in the music that puts them in another strata when it comes to electronic pop.
John-Benoit Dunckel - Keyboard, Vocals
Nicolas Godin - Guitar, Vocals
Jessica Banks - Vocals
Jason Falkner - Bass
Lisa Papineau - Vocals
Joey Waronker - Percussion
The album starts with one of the stronger songs in "Venus". It is driven by a slow, paced, plodding guitar, spacey synths, and whispered harmonized vocals. The vocals on this song are so beautiful, and make for one of the prettiest songs that I have ever heard, and a great intro to the album. The lyrics are very much a love song with lines like "You could be from Venus, and I could be from Mars. We could be together. Love us forever." This song builds to epic proportions, but all along it is such a simple song.
The second song on the album is the amazing "Cherry Blossom Girl". It has a very nice acoustic guitar line, and spacey electronic percussion. The vocals are really high and whispered for each line of the verse and then it is followed by a dreamy "Cherry blossom girl" line. The listlessness of the song is what makes it so good, also the flute in the chorus is very nice. This is one of my all-time favorite songs.
From the listless to the experimental the next song is "Run". It is very sterile feeling with every noise seemingly artificial including the vocals. The verse is very effects laden on the vocals, then the chorus is just the word "run" sampled over and over. There is a nice choir section on the second chorus, but the song isn't as great as the previous two, but still not skipable either.
"Univeral Traveler" is a very nice dreamy song. It combines a change up in vocal styles, I believe this is Godin on vocals for this song and that is why. It is nice though, and the acoustic guitar lends sort of a more organic feel to the song that I like despite the obvious electronic percussion. The dreamy backing vocals come in right before the 2 minute mark and are nice. There is a nice electronic melody solo thing near the midpoint of the song. The French accent really makes it catchy when he sings the words "universal traveler". Overall, this song is another great success.
"Mike Mills" is an instrumental piece that relies on a very nice piano melody, and is a pretty strong song, there just isn't alot to say about it. The next song however, "Surfing on a Rocket" is probably the most well known Air song as it was featured in a commercial and also was a single that was played on MTV from time to time. It has a nice little guitar riff, and keyboard part, and dreamy vocals as always. This is a wonderfully crafted piece and a good choice for a single.
"Another Day" really doesn't do an awful lot to me. It is really just a mediocre song, that may be a highlight of another album, but on an album this great, it just gets lost amid the other great songs. The same can not be said about "Alpha Beta Gaga". This song is the most fast paced song on the album. It has a wonderful guitar riff and then what sounds like whistling with some bouncy sounding percussion. The whistling melody drives the song for a bit then it is joined by some handclaps. Later the song goes into just percussion, and finally some strings are added with the whistling part gone. At the 2:45 mark there is either an acoustic guitar or banjo or something that leads into the whistling part again. All of this together creates a fabulous instrumental piece that is really different from the rest of the album.
"Biological" is really a song that grows on you after a while. The first couple of times I listened to it it wasn't very memorable because it is just kind of a pretty song that seems to lack a definative hook, but upon further listens and paying more attention to detail I realize the beautiful blending of instruments, and the wonderfully crafted lyrics. This went from one of my forgetables, to one of my favorites on the album.
"Alone in Kyoto" is a pop gem. This song was featured in the movie "Lost In Translation", and is really a wonderful piece for a film. It shows more of the film score side that Air put into the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. There are vocals, but they really are just there to add another instrument to the song as they lend no lyrics, but just a nice percussion. This is a soft dreamy song like much of the album, and it is easy to just start daydreaming when this song is playing. It is really lovely, and the part with the piano near the end is a great comedown for the album.
"Cherry Blossom Girl"
"Surfing on a Rocket"
"Alpha Beta Gaga"
"Alone in Kyoto"
Recommended for fans of:
Boards of Canada
This is a very enjoyable album, and one of my favorites of the year. It was nominated for the Short List Music Prize, and rightly so. It is an album that is sure to put anyone in a good mood, and I really can't understand anyone not liking it.