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album review: air, le voyage dans la lune

A long time ago, Dunja sent out a note to us Lip music contributors saying we had access to review EMI releases. I was ecstatic when I saw the newest AIR release, Le voyage dans la lune, listed available for review.

An ex-boyfriend of sorts got me into French electronic-pop duo AIR back in college. I was blown away by the brilliance that is Moon Safari because I hadn’t heard the masterful mix of traditional pop music and experimental electronic production since my parents introduced me to David Bowie and Pink Floyd. I have enjoyed every AIR album since that day, especially Talkie Walkie, but Moon Safari remains my favorite. “Sexy Boy” and “Kelly Watch the Stars” are all still on heavy rotation in my world.

I read some more about the most recent AIR release and understood that it was recorded in less than twenty days to accompany the colorized version of the classic French film A Trip to the Moon (you might remember some of the scenes from that Smashing Pumpkins music video?). I am usually not the biggest fan of soundtracks unless I love the film for which the soundtrack was made, but I was still excited to give a proper listen to Le voyage dans la lune.

After repeating the album on sort of an infinite loop for the past week and a half, I’ve realized that I really want to love Le voyage dans la lune because it is by one of my favorite bands and the way it came into being is pretty cool, but I just don’t like the whole album that much. I’m sure that once I see it with the film that will all change, but for now I can’t shake the feeling of being disappointed because I know AIR is capable of doing great things with experimental, instrumental electronic jazzy pop.

AIR stayed true to their sound on this album, but a large majority of the individual songs fell short. “Moon Fever” has the typical AIR relaxed piano and easy harmony, but instead of being amazed at the instrumental complexity and electronic progression after I heard Moon Safari’s “La femme d’argent” for the first time, I found myself waiting for it to be over. On another note, the overproduced and aptly named “Sonic Armada” began to bother me as I listened to the album multiple times. I liked the way so many different instruments and electronic sounds were sort of weaved together to create this “Armada”, but the sounds themselves were jarring.

There are, of course, several standout tracks on the album. I really enjoyed “Seven Stars” because of the sort of pop sensibility and accompanying vocals from Beach House lead vocalist Victoria Legrand. In terms of instrumental songs, I liked “Parade”, “Cosmic Trip” and “Lava” for their multi-instrumentalism and cascading tempos to really embody that feeling of taking a journey through time and space. “Lava” especially sounds like it could’ve been an outtake from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

All in all, whether you’re a fan girl like me or just someone looking for some new, cool music, Le voyage dans la lune is worth a listen. As a standalone album, Le voyage dans la lune leaves a bit to be desired, but it takes you on an interesting voyage that could only be better accompanied by film, so I guess by most standards that makes it a great soundtrack.

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