Album: Moon Safari, 1998
Justification: Air’s entire reputation is based on a single album: Moon Safari. Sure, up until its release they were a cool up-and-coming French band (and oh, how exotic that seemed in the late 90s!) who combined the oh-so-cool electro with the chill-out that was so inexplicably popular at the time (I swear, 85% of all chill-out compilations have ‘All I Need’ on it, normally bookended by Kinobe’s ‘Slip Into Something More Comfortable’ and some insipid track by either Groove Armada or Zero 7). This was perfect cocktail party music, exotic enough to sound cool, familiar enough not to be distracting, mixing modern beats with vintage sounds without sounding all soulful and inspiring and black like with those Jazzamatazz records. This was safe, milky-white music that everyone [middle-class] could enjoy. And enjoy it we did.
That said, no-one enjoyed it more than Air. They enjoyed it so much that they ensured that they’d never be in situation where anyone would accuse them of eclipsing their classic by making sure everything they did subsequently was as bland and passionless as they could possibly make it. And then, as I discovered at V Festival whatever year they played, they also ensured that they would even take their finest moments, like this single and ‘Kelly Watch The Stars’, and perform them with contemptuous indifference. I have hated few bands more than I did Air during that one, soul-sapping set.
I adored – and still adore – this song, and most of the album (though ‘All I Need’ can fuck right off). And while there are moments of Air magic subsequent to this (let’s face it, ‘Playground Love’ is amazing – and that’s Thomas Mars from Phoenix singing on it, by the way, under the pseudonym Gordon Tracks), they never made another decent album again. Look at your iTunes playlist, doubters, and try to tell me that Talkie Walkie or Love 2 has gotten a single spin outside the week you got it. I’ll wait for you over here.
THIS TIME IN 2010: Weekend, so let’s look at 1998 in more details, shall we?