Top positive review
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AIR return to a familiar landscape - with a twist...
on October 6, 2009
AIR return with Love 2 - their best work, in my opinion, since 1998's 'Moon Safari'. The French duo have taken a more 'experimental' approach to this album - often delving amongst walls-of-sound (Do The Joy) and synth-driven scopes (Be a Bee). Alternatively, the album offers perhaps AIR's more accessible pop-tune to date with Sing Sang Sung. With this type of contrast (notable from quite an early stage on the album) one has to expect some surprises along the way.
Do The Joy - an odd track to start the album with. Nonetheless, a good indicator of the albums flow and overall feel. The song sounds like something from 10,000 Hz Legend, with it's multi-layered synth forefront and distorted voice effects. Not the albums strongest but interesting and innovative at the very least. 7/10
Love - once again, not your typical 'second' song. It holds a sense of simplicity though, and as the song progresses it turns from a basic loop into a nice, soft-like piece with a great chord progression and melody (the glockenspiel adds an awesome feel). Sounds like something you'd hear at the end of Moon Safari - especially the later half of the piece. It wasn't my favourite at first, but after a few listens it grew on me. 7/10
So Light Is Her Football - the first song to really feature lyrical dynamics. The music sounds Pocket Symphony era, with the song being driven by piano and hovering strings. I heard (or read) somewhere that this will be the second single off the album. An odd decision I believe, but who knows - maybe it needs more listens. The song seems a little bland at some points, but holds suspense from an instrumentation point of view. 6/10
Be A Bee - definitely not a song you'd think AIR would produce. With it's western-like feel, the song sounds like something off a surfing documentary. It's fun but also lacks differentiation (on all fronts). It could have done with some structuring overhauling. Not the greatest song on the album but hey - that's something you'll probably be use to at this stage, right? 6/10
Missing The Light Of The Day - an interesting tune with some rather unique sounds. If you've ever seen AIR live you'd know what I'm talking about. They seem to produce some pretty funky patches throughout their set, and this song is a pretty good indicator of that. If you've heard any of Brian Eno's earlier albums you could make a comparison with this songs psuedo-alternatuve twist. Nothing overly exciting, but a worthwhile listen. 7/10
Tropical Disease - the albums longest tune and one of the best, in my opinion. Contrary to what I've mention so far with regards to lyrical absence, I've always been one to fancy AIR's instrumental tracks. I believe it takes a higher-level degree of musical integrity to produce a track that satisfies your audience, depending entirely on instrumentation and dynamical-presence. The song sounds like two turned into one. The first half is up beat and has a similar essence to Be a Bee. As it progresses it slows down into an ambient plateau, reminiscent of something off Talkie Walkie. 8/10
Heavens Light - definitely one of the albums standout tracks. It'd be right at home with the likes of La Femme d'Argent and Ce Matin La. Probably the albums most 'chill-out' number, with it's swirling progressions (especially towards the middle half) and heavenly vocal scene. My personal favorite and a seamlessly perfect ambient tune. 10/10
Night Hunter - another instrumental track with a great beat to it. Cross the electronica soundscapes of 10,000 Hz Legend and add the piano-driven feel of (the majority of) Pocket Symphony and you have this great combination of ambience and almost down-tempo-like rhythm. A great addition to the second half of the album and an homage to the lighter side of AIR. 9/10
Sing Sang Sung - well what can we say about this! Easily AIR's most accessible pop-song to date with an amazing effort from the boys and their female vocalist. With a musical infusion that sounds like something from a Télépopmusik album, this number is easily one of the best on the entire album. Simple yet so effective in its delivery. There's just enough contrast between chorus, verse and so on to give the tune a refreshing feel. If you're going to get someone into this album, nay, AIR themselves, this might be a good starting point! 10/10
Eat My Beat - one of the shortest on the album. The song is a good break from the ambient/instrumental-driven latter half of the album. With it's brewing crescendos mid day through the piece, it introduces an awesome little synth melody line which is bound to engage further interest. 8/10
You Can Tell It To Everybody - an awesome chill-out track to begin the closing stage of the album. Once again, I find myself being reminded of the later half of Moon Safari with this one. `New Star In The Sky (Chanson Pour Solal)' would have this as it's little sister. Acoustic and laid-back in it's approach, this tune is a near perfect night song. With it's distorted harmonica interludes, it's bound to sooth whatever sorrow you're experiencing and take you to a calmer place. 9/10
African Velvet - whilst at first this may not seem like your average album closer, African Velvet is probably one of the most interesting tracks on the album. With it's hand-picked guitar segments, and it's front-line horn melody, it's a perfect way to close of this special album. With a smooth bass line, hinting the likes of La Femme d'Argent, Velvet will undoubtedly spark interest and keep you listening to the last note. A great way to close off Love 2. 8/10
I gave this effort from AIR four stars in the end. But I'm not ruing out a higher score. It's definitely an album that needs a few listens for it to really soak in. Not as accessible as their earlier albums, but for anyone who's been hanging for a different approach fomr these French ambient-masters, your wait is over. If I could relate it to any album previously released, I'd say 10,000 Hz Legend. On one hand this album may be sour for fans of AIR's more chill-out tunes, but on the other `Love 2' has the makings of attracting a whole new market/denomination of listeners from all corners of the music globe. Give it a go and don't give up after a few listens...it'll grow on you. Trust me!