For part of Air's Pocket Symphony tour, Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin played shows with only drummer Joey Waronker as support, forcing the band to strip its songs down to their essences. They stick with that lineup on Love 2, which delivers some of the most Air-like music to the band's name, and with good reason: this is the first time Dunckel and Godin have produced their own album. The duo tends to follow its more ambitious work with more accessible material and Love 2 is no exception, replacing Pocket Symphony's exotic, experimental bent with a renewed emphasis on the pair's quintessential sound.
As a result of my late-appreciation for Air, which had me backtracking from Talkie Walkie into their early groundbreaking efforts, I’ve only had one full-length, Pocket Symphony, to anticipate in advance. As nuanced as that 2007 release moved the French duo into cinematic mood-music terrain, its sedated feel had me kicking myself and wishing I had been actively listening to Air during their more adventurous years. Well, aren't I lucky...
There are a few things I'm impressed with Air for doing: resuscitating crusty, decades-old Moog blorps amidst the frenzy of millennial techno-utopian futurism, turning a new generation on to a certain vintage Gallic notion of jet-set sophistication, and getting indie- and punk-dominated college rock stations to play what essentially amounted to lounge prog. Most of all, there's the way they composed their music as an unapologetically frothy sort of cheese-pop without letting it get dominated by snorting insincerity or self-conscious hokeyness. You could still hear the kitsch, but it wasn't the driving force, and they had a sneaky way of lulling you into forgetting you weren't "supposed" to like this kind of thing.
Please note that Air’s latest album is Love 2 and not Love 2.0. Air is not looking for a radical reinvention. If anything, what they’re presenting is intended to be some kind of sequel to previous efforts, or perhaps a rebranding effort for the emotion of love. Sadly, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel’s new love is about as ill-advised as New Coke and this makes for a cluttered, uneven, and kinda hokey listen.
Listening to an Air album while making lunch, oiling your bike chain or reorganizing a bookshelf can infuse those mundane activities with a glimmer of jet-set sophistication and romance. Innocuous, mellow, breathy-voiced and delicate, Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Goden's ambient electronica rarely gets you feeling too strongly one way or the other. [rssbreak] Love 2, their sixth studio album, continues on this path, though its empty lyrics and overall cheesiness do grate.