Air, the French electronic duo that never fails to deliver great albums, has released yet another compelling record in its already impressive repertoire — Love 2.
Through the years, Air has solidified itself as one of the most interesting minimalist electronica acts, and with Love 2, it’s apparent Air will carry that banner for years to come. But because of its niche market and audience, no song by the band will ever become an anthem for any generation, nor will its members ever be considered poets or artists that create art beyond them, at least from a mainstream point of view.
Air creates songs that turn into ambience; it creates certain moods and feelings, and turns into the perfect elevator music you want to put on when you are just relaxing in your room. You can listen to Air while doing your homework, or even while you write articles for the school newspaper. Although the music lingers in your subconscious, it acts as mere background noise rather than a tune that you crave.
The band uses anything — from grand pianos, bells, conga drums, string sections and guitars to anything related to a synthesizer — to create tunes that could be put on repeat without tiring out the listener.
As its name wittingly suggests, Air uses a lot of reverberation and space to play with sounds and to create soothing ambience in each song. With the release of its fifth album, Air gives both old and new fans even more reasons to love what these guys do.
Although the album as a whole is satisfying, Love 2 does unfortunately contain some of the most forgettable songs ever to be released by the duo. Love 2 starts out very well with spacey, dreamlike tracks “Do The Joy” and “Love.” On these two particular tracks, the duo just sticks to what it does best and brings overly produced tracks with catchy hooks that resonate well in social ambience.
Sadly, midway through the album, Air’s reverb begins to fall flat. “Missing The Light of The Day” combines two things that make perfect sense on paper, but truly sound horrible in practice: futuristic sounds and beats you would hear on a Kraftwerk album combined with more modern-sounding auto-tuned vocals. As Jay-Z once said, auto-tune is dead, and if it isn’t, it truly should be. This could be one of Air’s worst songs, and it is not a fun experiment listening to it.
Another low point on the album is “Tropical Disease,” a track that starts out marvelously well with a crisp clear piano and a muted trumpet, but turns into a Japanese cartoon theme song followed by a pretty annoying recorder. This tune is definitely another experiment for the duo and really brings the record down.
The album picks up toward the end, however, and leaves listeners on a better note. “Sing Sang Sung” and “You Can Tell It To Everybody” return to the essential sound of the band that fans know and love.
The last track on the album, “African Velvet,” is very reminiscent of Moby’s newest album, Wait For Me. Although it is on relatively newer grounds for Air, it passes with flying colors because it lacks a true hook and plays with listeners’ expectations. Air should look for these musical segues instead of completely abandoning its style and going for a sound that is out of its spectrum.
Air’s Love 2 delivers an album that fans have been waiting for since the release of Pocket Symphony; however, the record also shows that the style that made the duo famous does not permit much room for vast experimentation.
For the band to grow in popularity, it would have to abandon what it does best, which is create off-beat, celestial sounds full of quirks and nuances. It would be better for Air to ignore mass stardom and maintain its minimalistic roots in order to become an unconventional yet true legend within its specialized audience.