The BEAST Album Review


Talkie Walkie

When I first heard Air, I was instantly hooked to their sound. Derivative as it may have been, the French duo’s music was definitely unlike anything going on at the time, a pleasant mix of '70s synth sounds and modern techno sensibilities. Sadly, though Talkie Walkie provides instances reminiscent of their early infectious techno-cheese sound ("Surfin' On a Rocket" and "Alpha Beta Gaga"), it sounds much more like its stolid, dour, underwhelming predecessor, 10,000 Hz Legend. Subdued to a fault, with its ever-present nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and a variety of flawlessly recorded "real" instruments like pianos, flutes and strings, the band seems to be taking themselves by far too seriously. In all probability, Air have always been this serious and earnest in composing their music, which makes the retrofuturistic blipfests that are Premieres Symptomes and Moon Safari all the more amusing in retrospect. I, for one, miss the vocoders, the in-your-ear analog synths, the Fender Rhodes organs, and the psychedelic digital delays, flangers, and various electronic twiddles that comprised their earlier work, and earned the band its current buzz. Stripped of these elements, Air reveals itself to be something of a dud. The combination of these classical instruments with spacey artificial sounds doesn't seem to work very well: the contrast renders both somewhat absurd. Rather than the warmth and otherworldliness the first records possessed, this album is largely a cold, spare affair, complete with Radiohead-style busy, static, pointless beats, and flat, emotionless vocals. I've heard Air's music accurately described as "elevator music from space," reflecting both their easy-listening, melodious composition and the trippy, effect-drenched sounds. Well, now it just sounds like elevator music, period.

-Mitchell Bonk

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