Air: Moon Safari (Source/Virgin CDV 2848 £13.99)

NICOLAS GODIN and Jean- Benoit Dunckel, the youthful duo better known as Air, come from Versailles and have mysteriously acquired a fashionable cachet not normally associated with performers from that region of France. Moon Safari, their first proper album, is a collection of stylish if rather jejune themes for synthesizer and strings, with a sparkle that is more tinsel than gold.

Their enthusiastic use of antique electronica (Moogs, vocoders, Fender Rhodes piano et al) roots the sound of Air in the 1970s, as well as lending the album an unmistakable aura of kitsch. Beth Hirsch, an American singer, puts some flesh on the bones of ‘All I Need’ and ‘You Make It Easy’, but more typical is the opening gambit, ‘La Femme D’Argent’, a soothing instrumental garnished with whirring spaceship noises and pattering percussion that meanders pleasantly if somewhat aimlessly along.

Although they are operating at the chic end of the easy-listening loop, their music lacks the backbone of, say, the Finnish loungecore star Jimi Tenor, making it difficult to shake off the nagging impression that Air are simply the rave generation’s answer to Jean-Michel Jarre.

© David SinclairThe Times, 16 January 1998

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