Air - Talkie Walkie

Talkie Walkie


First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2004, Volume 11, #3

Written by John Metzger


Nigel Godrich is at it again, this time adding his stylistic touch to Airís third proper album Talkie Walkie. Despite his previous brilliant innovations, which most notably launched Radiohead into the stratosphere and brought the band much critical acclaim, Godrich is beginning to face the same fate as Daniel Lanois. That is: much of what he does sounds exactly the same. Heís become the "go to" guy for groups wishing to gain some attention for themselves. Yet, his knob-twiddling flourishes are quickly becoming passť, if only because they are starting to pop up everywhere, and all too frequently, he overshadows the ensembles with which he is working by becoming a bigger story than the music itself. Part of the problem is that having Godrich on oneís team lends, at least for now, a thread of credibility to oneís experimental endeavors. Although this isnít inherently a bad thing, heís also becoming somewhat of a crutch, one that absolves a band from actually crafting a great song.

Indeed, thatís the difference between Radiohead's OK Computer, which is stuffed full of magnificent moments, and Airís Talkie Walkie, which struggles, at times, to even find direction. If Godrich was hired for his ability to create ambience, that he certainly does, but what good does it do when it adorns such ridiculously boring tunes? Of the 10 tracks featured on the album, three are instrumentals that are more akin to leftover snippets from a dull movie soundtrack ó Alone in Kyoto actually was featured in Sophia Coppolaís Lost in Translation ó than to the intriguing psychedelic mayhem of Radioheadís Kid A and Amnesiac. Of the remaining tunes, only the dreamy, Bowie-esque, Brit-pop of Venus glistens and sparkles with promise while everything else scatters some interesting threads of thought throughout a string of otherwise somnambulant songs. The repetitive Surfing on a Rocket and the dreary Another Day sound like Billy Corgan collaborating with T-Rex after consuming several bottles of valium; and Universal Traveler fuses an electronic bossa nova with Crosby, Stills, and Nashís mellowness, combining its instrumentation into a delicately intricate, percussive rhythm that ultimately goes nowhere. Granted, Air frequently finds moments of beauty within its songs, but the more the band lingers upon them, exploring every nook and cranny, the less interesting they inevitably become. starstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2004 The Music Box