Air’s fourth long player (including the soundtrack to 2000’s The Virgin Suicides) marks a return of sorts to the headphones-friendly chamber pop that made the duo’s debut, Moon Safari, a definitive benchmark of the late-‘90s electronica movement. Talkie Walkie‘s best tracks find Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin softly pining for lost love in their typically melancholy way, or floating like birds above the gauzy, padded oceans of tracks like “Venus.” (For proof that they’re truly aliens from outer space, look no further than the pronunciation of “uni-ver-sól” on the song “Universal Traveler.”) Whether lifting you to cloud nine with their synthetic choir arrangements and lush synth-drones, or creating the perfect atmosphere for a holographic bath (“Run” is rivaled only by the bubble bath froth of Enya), Air’s music never fails to—put simply—evoke. But the trouble with Talkie Walkie is that its minimalism is often too, well, minimal (so much so that tracks like “Universal Traveler” and the plodding “Biological” might as well not even exist) and its references to ‘60s psychedelia (Love on “Cherry Blossom Girl,” The Doors on “Another Day”) sound authentic (and sufficiently quirky) but are nowhere near as engaging as the originals and fail to conjure anything but nostalgia. At its best, Talkie Walkie—which was produced by the “God of Producers,” Nigel Godrich—is the soundtrack to a yet-to-be-filmed indie flick (paging Sofia Coppola!).
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