I put on a sweater this morning before I sat down to write this since I get cold pretty easily. We take our laundry over to Brad's parents' house so that we don't have to pay to do laundry, and now I'm sitting here, reeking of my in-laws' house. It isn't a bad smell; it's just not what I necessarily want to smell like. With every inhale, this scent wafts into my nostrils and triggers a weird combination of warm and somewhat repulsed feelings. It's perfume-y, so my nose is running a little from the assault, yet I don't want to change it because I love this sweater. This is a perfect example of what I think of Air.
Yes, I'm the reviewer and I'm supposed to tell you what I think of it, but the truth is, I can't really decide if I love it or hate it. As soon as I decide I like it, they do something that makes me cringe; then, I decide I don't like it, and they do something that redeems them. They did the soundtrack to "The Virgin Suicides" and I remember liking it when I saw the movie, but a soundtrack and an album are different propositions altogether. So close and personal, with no visuals or other distractions between me and the music, I'm not so sure if I like it as much as I thought I did. I'm not sure if I like it at all.
For one thing, it's very cute. I generally don't favor "cute" as a compliment, and I don't mean it as one here. The first song, "Venus," attacks you with a melody of two heavy piano notes, hand-clapping, and a slow bass line that drags across 4 notes. It reminds me of music from the late '80s that was crammed full of synthesizers but tried hard to be taken seriously. I've never thought that worked. Most of their music has the same feeling to it.
The vocals don't absolve it, either. Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel's French accents only get smoothed out a little, and they sound like a Czechoslavakian with a lisp. I wouldn't have known they were saying "surfing on a rocket" if the song hadn't been named that; it sounds more like "suffing on a workit." In "Run," a sort of slow Kraftwerk-like song, the distortion of the main voice makes it even worse.
But, to be fair, "Run" is one of the songs I actually liked. They loop the last word of each stanza of the verse over and over. Underneath, a spacy human chorus sound (think Enya) slides in and softens the otherwise very metallic and detached song. It gives you an idea of why the woman they are singing about might want to leave. I wouldn't want to stay with someone who is only nice to me when I threaten to leave either.
In the end, it isn't as bad as my first impression of it, but I attribute that to a softening of my sensitivity to it, the way that I can't really smell this sweater anymore since I've been immersed in the smell all morning. It isn't that it gets much better by listening to it more, but that you become more numb to its less pleasant aspects. 6/10 -- Eden Hemming Rose (25 May, 2005)