Air’s second actual album, is a tremendously odd hour of music.
Those expecting a logical sequel to 1998’s seductive two-million seller, Moon Safari, should try track ten here, Don?t Be Light, for size. It begins with massed strings and ethereal banshee howls straight out of a space opera scored by John Williams, then switches abruptly to a motorik boogie in the style of very early Kraftwerk. Just after a wayward fuzz guitar break – and just before the virtuoso whistling solo – Beck turns up to solemnly intone a sermon on modern living. “…transcendentally lovely, but incredibly creepy, too.” The reveries of Moon Safari, then, are exposed as fraudulent.
Air are playing a dangerous game, undermining every idyllic melody with an ominous electronic hum, delivering every emotional pledge in emotionless, robotic tones. But the seriousness is underpinned by a few decent jokes and there are no real solos, indulgences or gratuitous time changes. The wide-eyed, space-age optimism of their debut was a cruel joke, it seems. And the cumulative effect is like standing on top of the Grand Canyon and admiring the view, only to discover it’s just a superbly-painted backdrop.
But does that make them any less enchanting? Not in this case.