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Air “Pocket Symphony” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Why is there air; or for that matter Air? As humans our bodies necessitate the need for air but since electronica’s booming 1990s wave it doesn’t seem as functional to still maintain a similar relationship with Air. The French-electropop duo still elude even the finest of dancefloor fan with its latest release, Pocket Symphony, a twelve track walk through the park that falls far closer to The Virgin Suicides soundtrack than Talkie Walkie; though even that comparison doesn’t entirely succeed.

The answer to why this group is needed in today’s musical landscape remains just as illusive after listening to Pocket Symphony as before. Long gone are the days of the overcompensating electronic tracks such as “Kelly Watch the Stars” and “Sexy Boy” but at the same time Air still seems discontent with harnessing a slower, moodier sound as its sole replacement. Tracks such as the album’s first single “Once Upon a Time” and “Left Bank” offer themselves as tempting grasps towards pop without entirely uncovering the group’s soft sound. Not to say that these songs are anything like Moon Safari, but rather they represent the ideas behind much of that album – that being an attempt to experiment with popular music without attempting to be considered a pop act.

“Left Bank” is in itself one of the most enjoyable songs on the album as it reflects the decades struggle to find another Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. The track helps divide the group from the moody ambient sound that had been increasingly standing as its lone identifier. Though much of the album still focuses on that sound including “One Hell of a Party” which works in synthesized harps and piano to help broaden Jarvis Cocker’s voice, though it hardly needs it. The direction the group takes as the body of the album develops leads us to a question, why is it that the songs which tend to expel the soft wavy electronica of the album become the most anticipated after multiple listens?

“Mer du Japon” tracks an eloquent piano loop through a swirling set of electronic synthetics which manipulate the listener into believing that it isn’t following the previously mentioned pattern of the soft, wavy electronic music. Despite bearing glimpses that suggest otherwise the album is entirely solid based on its foregoing of rock, house, indie-pop or strict electronic beat-wave. Why is there Air? Because even at their most deceiving Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin are as brilliant as ever.