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Air:: Pocket Symphony (Album Review)

We’ve been on this soundtrip with Air for a while now: rolling at a lulling clip, a landscape full of movie score songs of the future. The French duo’s latest, Pocket Symphony, delivers more of the same but manages to keep it moving. Gone is the front-to-back retro-galactic pop of 1998’s Moon Safari; the cosmos cool of 2004’s Talkie Walkie has been dialed way down. With Pocket Symphony we hear more pianos, strings, Zen garden effects, and actual… space in the songs. But despair not, fans and laser light show lovers! Pocket Symphony still retains that Air signature sound. Opening track “Space Maker” will be the most familiar to those who left off with Safari’s “La Femme D’Argent;” “Left Bank” a sweeter and smaller version of previous offerings’ slower tracks. These songs are still Air, to be sure. They’re just more melodic and quiet than those that came before them.

In terms of pace, Pocket Symphony is, as a whole, one slow ride. It picks up speed only with “Mer Du Japon,” a truly great Air song that combines the old and the new, a lovely little thing gliding right along. It’s a welcome tempo change before things settle back down, making it all the better that it’s the only one.

And as with past efforts, instrumental tracks on Pocket Symphony rule. The lyrics, though delivered in that breathy-sexy must-be-French way, don’t move past lines from a sad-sack love note or ad slogan on the metro. If you haven’t fallen for it before, you won’t now. Still, the overall effort on Pocket Symphony is a fine one- a pretty new take on the familiar. The album doesn’t break any ground, but as long the ride stays scenic, who says it needs to?
(-Rebecca Pellman- Seattle, WA)