Air are back, and that makes me happy. Nobody can make atmospheric and strange pop like Godin and Dunckel, and their rigorous mix of velvet and silicon is as delicious a feast fans of innovative electronic music could have hoped for.
This album is not as weird as 10,000Hz Legend, which is initially kind of off-putting. Granted, I know a lot of people who hate that record, but I think it's stunning (with "Lucky and Unhappy," "The Vagabond," "Sex Born Poison," and the ever-evolving "Radian" ranking among some of their best material ever), and given that Nicolas and Jean-Benoit continue to evolve through new sounds with each successive record (and I would include in that their electroclash/booty detour with the spectacularly uneven Everybody Hertz EP) and I had no idea what to expect when I first put this disc in the player.
"Venus," the album's opener, is so transcendently lovely that I had to pull my car over. Minimal and yet at the same time quite lush, it becomes almost infuriating how effortless that Air makes it sound to create something like this. While distinctively being its own animal, "Venus" strikes me as the kind of record that would make both Giorgio Moroder and Angelo Badalamenti proud, and while it easily the best track on the album, the delicate and moody "Mike Mills" and "Alpha Beta Gaga" complement it nicely.
"Another Day" briefly reconnects with the B-Movie score acid flashback of "Sex Born Poison," melding theremin and syncopated programming together for a mildly creepy journey, and the daffy "Surfing on a Rocket" is as sunny as anything Nicolas and JB have done in the past. "Alone in Kyoto," which many know from the film and soundtrack of Lost in Translation, is also nice and mellow. As with all Air albums (with the exception of the Everybody Hertz EP), after two or three listens, the album becomes almost viral, flexing its muscle and curling around the cerebral cortex, never to leave your subconscious.
The Electronic Performers DVD, included with initial limited pressings of the Talkie Walkie CD, is a mesh of performance footage from a Summer 2002 show and the expected backstage/on the way to the show/unrelated amusing stuff that was shot cut in. As a whole, the piece is fairly directionless, especially in comparison to the previously available Mike Mills Air doc Eating Sleeping Waiting and Playing. The live footage is interesting and colorful, but is edited in far too frenetic a manner to approximate the delirious tension and symphonic luxury of actually seeing Air in concert.
Talkie Walkie CD - **** out of *****
Electronic Performers DVD - ** ½ out of *****