Wed, Oct 14, 2009 (2:44 p.m.)
It’s never been trendier to be a band from France—at least in America, what with Phoenix’s surprise mainstream success, the attention paid to femme-rockers Plastiscines and chanteuse Charlotte Gainsbourg and (of course) Daft Punk’s robot-rock renaissance. This welcoming climate should be a boon for Air, which has built a solid career on seductive boudoir-pop, creepy Moog-rock and tranquil electro-acoustic soundscapes. However, the disappointingly bland Love 2 sounds like Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel are spinning their creative wheels.
All of Air’s familiar tropes are present: froggy, digitized vocals (“Do the Joy”), watery-piano and vintage-synthesizer chill (“Tropical Disease”), soft-glow psychedelic-funk textures (“African Velvet”) and fluttering guitar riffs (“Sing Sang Sung”). But unlike 2004’s Talkie Walkie and 2007’s Pocket Symphony—both of which took similar orchestration and twisted it into lovely pop songs—Love 2 has no focus; its songs are shapeless and meandering.
In fact, the moments it does perk up are few and far between: “Be a Bee” is a bass-creased instrumental that contrasts surf-rock licks with an urgent Kraut-rock drone, while “Missing the Light of the Day” sounds like Depeche Mode hanging out in a Japanese tea garden, and the forceful “Eat My Beat” merges sunrise synths, new-wave guitars and fanciful sound effects. Aside from these tunes, however, Love 2 rarely becomes more than whimsical sonic wallpaper.