Source Material: Air, Talkie Walkie
France's Air made their name with the 1998 debut Moon Safari, a seductive romp through downtempo beats and kitschy, easy-listening signifiers. They earned their cachet with their soundtrack to Sophia Coppola's 2000 film The Virgin Suicides, which proved them unparalleled interpreters of the sexier side of ennui, channeling '60s pop tropes through '90s recombinant techniques a little like Beck, without the irony. With the following year's 10,000 Hz Legend, their gauzy façade had faded and torn, as they struggled to put a real raison d'etre to their stylistic command a familiar trajectory for so many buzz bands. And then, unexpectedly, they returned in 2004 with Talkie Walkie, an album that redeemed their alternately moody and starry-eyed approach with the strongest songwriting of their whole career. "Cherry Blossom Girl," "Run," "Universal Traveler," "Mike Mills," "Surfing on a Rocket" pretty much the whole album overflows with hummable melodies, delivered in one of the most soothing altos imaginable and wrapped up in a gorgeous package of strummed guitars, unobtrusive drum-machine beats, rock-steady electric basslines and delicate filigrees of analog synthesizers and effects.
Air is an important antecedent for a host of bands that followed Phoenix and their chiming indie pop, Delorean and their electronics-infused rock, plus the whole chillwave movement, with its emphasis on beautiful dreamers and windswept cool. But what came before Air? We unpack their influences across a spectrum of breezy, elemental acts.