Love 2

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0

Label: Astralwerks

Artist transformations are most satisfying in subtle doses. It’s arguable that the French duo, Air, have undergone anything but a gradual metamorphosis. The indelible space lounge of Moon Safari was abruptly replaced with more prominent trip hop and big beat qualities on their sophomore outing, 10,000 Hz Legend. Talkie Walkie and Pocket Symphony ushered in a more traditional and lyrical verse-chorus era in Air’s oeuvre. Though these blunt stylistic changes leave fans to ponder what aural concoction they’ll cook up on Air’s next album, the pair’s majestic songwriting proves to be their most consistent asset and the very reason they continue to achieve worldwide success.

In this sixth work, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel present their most rock-based album to date, a testament to their continual defiance and envelope-pushing of the electronica genre. While most other electronica artists are preoccupied with cutting and pasting soundbites and whumping beats, Air seem to stray farther and farther from their deemed genre, a move that has gradually lured more pop and rock purists. This doesn’t mean that they’ve lost their innovation; the songs boast more structural deviation than the past two albums, and we can wholeheartedly welcome back the sonic experimentation Pocket Symphony lacked. Take the futuristic synth potpourri of “Missing the Light of the Day,” or “Night Hunter’s” psychedelic-rock-mock. Godin and Dunckel haven’t lost their immaculate touch for blending such drastically different sounds into cohesive and successful songs. Air’s beloved, signature textures and colors sound like they never left home in the first place.

The most appreciable reemerging element is the duo’s pioneering lounge sound. Most of the album revels in retro grooves and synthy strings that have lingered seemingly in purgatory more than in any moratorium. Many parallels can be drawn to their earlier works. The two-part “Tropical Disease” is a stark companion piece to 10,000 Hz Legend’s “Radian,” while “Do the Joy” and “Love” could easily pass as one of Moon Safari’s synthonies- even to a casual fan. Simultaneously, the pair subtly sneaks in straightforward drum beats with production qualities that would flatter Billy Joel.

Love 2’s best quality is its mood. As indicated by the glossy, pop gem “Sing Sang Sung,” Dunckel and Godin are in the sun’s warmest rays since Moon Safari. Subsequent records conveyed a profoundly dark, gloomy side which served as a comfortable niche for them for a while, though their style sounded mundane and caged by Pocket Symphony.

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