When Air’s first collection of EP’s, Premiers Symptomes, was released in 1997, it seemed as if they had just emerged from a 25-year, suspended-animation cocoon. This collection of instrumental tracks were just so damned Seventies-style groovy, you could almost feel the thick orange shag carpeting under your feet.
Expectations were high for their full-length debut, Moon Safari. Air delivered in 1998 with a record that made most critic’s top ten lists. Since their uncanny one-two punch breakout, though, Air have had a little trouble maintaining the momentum.
It seemed like a big mistake to follow Moon Safari with the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. If the record had been an actual Air album disguised as a soundtrack, that would have been one thing. But it really is just the soundtrack to a mediocre film.
Their most disappointing release to date came next, 10,000 Hz Legend (2001). Air then bounced back a bit with Talkie Walkie (2004), but it seemed to be a case of too little, too late. A lot of early fans had moved on by this point.
And so we find ourselves with Air’s latest, Love 2. I like the pun, and the way the 2 in the title references the duo. Very Seventies. But some of the carefree fun that decade was known for seems to have evaporated.
Love 2 opens up with “Do The Joy.” From the title one might expect an E-filled track bursting with glowsticks and dancing revelers. Then you hear the opening lyrics: “The world is on the brink…of extinction.”
Damn, who put the bummer in my joy trip? Maybe these French fashionistas just wanted to show the world that there is more to them than their suits. Thankfully, the rest of the record steers clear of such sober concerns.
The next track, "Love," is vintage Air, with music as light as a feather, and the word love repeated over and over. “So Light Is Her Footfall” continues in this vein, although the lyrics show the band longing for a woman who “moves like a ghost.”
One of the notable departures for the pair is the use of an actual drummer on most of the tracks. Joey Waronker brings some real heat to songs such as “Night Hunter,” and “Tropical Disease.” There are also new influences being added to the mix, the most striking of which show up on “Be A Bee,” which channels The Ventures' “Walk, Don’t Run” through the band’s vintage modulators.
Air are often called a “chill-out” band, and the description is apt. Their peculiar brand of mellow beats and distant atmospherics is perfect for the mellow vibe. Love 2 breaks very little new ground, but it certainly holds its own against their earlier triumphs. They remain a unique voice in the world of electronic music.