Air

In the past, I've apologized for boring, "nuanced" strains of electronica by acknowledging the music's faults, then inverting them by celebrating the music's aural - wallpaper value. What I really meant is that I could play it while writing without getting distracted, and therefore it functioned as a sort of highbrow Yanni, Yawni, whatever. And that's fine, but what irritated me was people deluding themselves by giving it some fancy-schmancy hyphenated subgenre name. Then, at the height of my cynicism, Air's Moon Safari was released, demonstrating that you can create background techno that's not dreadfully dull Music - for - Zip - Drives crud. With their bubbly - dubbly underwater melodies and frothy waves of soft - soap sonics, these French technology ticklers never forgot to write actual songs—therefore keeping my interest while I'm doing dishes, doing reviews, or, as one blow-dried '80s philosopher once said, doing it all for my baby.

Premiers Symptomes, an EP of rare early singles, demonstrates that Moon Safari did not come out of a void, and it will satisfy those who already dug Air's glorious, gliding mini-symphonies. Still, it'd be a mistake to pretend that Air are anything more than an adult contemporary band for the nose - ring - and - Adidas set. In fact, they resemble another troupe of foreigners who specialized in light beats and lush sounds: Air Supply. Seriously, in functional terms the two are pretty similar, despite obvious surface differences. The electronically treated, multitracked "aaaaaaaaahhhhhh" from the beginning of "Lost in Love" wouldn't even remotely sound out of place here.

 
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