REVIEW: Air - Love 2
Zach Hart Monday, October 05, 2009
Air’s fifth studio album, Love 2, has everything that makes these French electro-poppers who they are. Nicholas Godin and JB Dunckel continue to master intricate arrangements, sublime synth landscapes, and warm, soothing tones that make for a decently captivating chill out album. It’s nothing too fantastic, however. The idea of mashing oriental, jungle, and extraterrestrial themes together seems like an interesting concept. It is interesting. It is unique. Then we reach an issue. It gets too chill. It gets too entrancing. This might be another way to say a bit too boring. The repetitiveness that makes Air the perfect soundtrack to relaxation is a double-edged sword. If you can stay focused and remember that Air is supposed to sound like a blissful, tripped out dream, you’ll be fine. If you can’t stay focused, however, you’ll be begging the next track is something that’ll snap you out of the musically induced daze. Ambient music doesn’t have to knock you unconscious.
A few of the tracks do keep you on your toes. “Missing The Light of Day” reaches Depeche Mode territory with spacey, industrial beeps and bloops. The Air touch is added with, well, airy vocal harmonies that keeps the song from becoming uncharacteristically heavy. “Be A Bee” is propelled along with a driving bass line and grind saw synthesizers. “Tropical Disease” is a sultry, sax and marimba flavoured track with hints of bubbly melodies straight from the 70’s. Air does a fantastic job at painting a picture. Lucky for them, lyrics would be completely unnecessary. The atmosphere takes you a long, mellow ride.
When Love 2 ventures from pulsing beats and psychedelic distortion, it goes a bit wrong. “Heaven’s Light” sounds like something cut out for a hip televangelist. The single, “Sing Sang Sung” is perfect material for someone performing on the classic Gong Show, or even worse, the Lawrence Welk Show. The music becomes undeniably cheesy, even cheap at times. The melodic do-do-do’s heard throughout the album was reminiscent of the choir voice setting on an ancient Yamaha keyboard I got for Christmas years ago. No one buys an 8-year-old an expensive keyboard. No one. Air can do a bit better.
The problem with Love 2 is that there isn’t a single standout track. There’s no pop gem that screams for a bit of limelight. It isn’t that there’s not a “Sexy Boy” on the album. It’d be a bit foolish to expect Air to recreate that track for the sake of popularity. The issue here is more like there’s nothing that comes close to the seductive cool and invasive catchiness of “Sexy Boy”. Of course, excuses can be made. We can say that perhaps Air has moved past that hook filled portion of their career. We could also say that I’m an ignorant reviewer that just doesn’t understand Air’s genius. I don’t like excuses, however. I just want a good pop tune. Air has all the right ingredients, but they don’t put the elements together in the right way to create an impressionable album like 1998’s Moon Safari. Until their stars realign again, they’ll just be above par elevator music in my book.