Talkie Walkie is the third studio album by French music duo Air, released on 27 January 2004. "Alone in Kyoto" was included on the soundtrack to the 2003 film Lost in Translation and "Run" was used in the Veronica Mars episode "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner", as well as the 2004 French film Lila Says. "Talkie-walkie" means walkie-talkie in French.
As of 2006, the album had sold 161,000 copies in United States according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was reported in 2004 that according to the Virgin label at that time the album had shipped 450,000 copies outside France.
Talkie Walkie received highly favourable reviews from critics. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone called the album "excellent" and commented that Air "return to what they do best: elegantly moody soundtrack music for imaginary films." NME reviewer Piers Martin commented, "It is light and fluffy, of course, but tender and romantic, synthetic and soulful, too. It sounds, effortlessly, new and different, fresh and focused, clean and Zen, no doubt the outcome of Godin and Dunckel's decision to play and programme all the instruments and perform all the vocals on the record themselves in Paris without any external assistance...". Praise was given to the subtle touch producer Nigel Godrich and string arranger Michel Colombier presumably brought to the album at its final stage, and the more personal and tighter song writing.
Pitchfork named Talkie Walkie the twentieth-best album of 2004, and they placed it at number 191 on its list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.
Five years on from the epoch-defining Moon Safari, les garcons seem to have returned to pastures old. A strange concept considering that they've made a career out of electronic retro-futurism. Yet, when you consider that the aforementioned album became almost the dictionary definition of incidental TV music (and cannot now be listened to without subconscious visions of pucker dishes by Jamie Oliver or another middle-class garden designed by Diamuid Gavin), it was wise to take time to return to what they do best. The intervening years being filled with prog concept albums (10,000Hz Legend), soundtracks (Virgin Suicides) or high-brow collaborations (City Reading), is this full-circle for Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, or is there more to Talkie Walkie than meets the eye?
Certainly the requisite elements needed to make it a music researcher's dream are here as before. Gently plucked acoustics cascade underneath bubbling analogue confections, while the strangely asexual vocals (entirely provided by the duo this time) murmur vaguely about space travel (''Surfin' on a Rocket''), sexual science (''Biological''), modern love (''Venus'') and cherry blossom girls (err...''Cherry Blossom Girl''), whatever they are. But ultimately this is not Moon Safari 2.
The clues are in the detail: just check out the whistling on "Alpha Beta Gaga"! There's still an element of collaboration; with co-producer Nigel Godrich supplying an extra sheen of glossy modern electronica and strings by Serge Gainsbourg's arranger Michel Colombier. Of course the latter choice makes perfect sense when you consider that 50 percent of Air's appeal is their very knowing faux-cheesiness. All Gallic cool mixed with naÃ¯ve whimsy. A bit like Francoise Hardy in the 25th century. They must be huge in Japan, and indeed this album often comes close to sounding very much like that country's very own science fiction pop maestro, Cornelius; especially on ''Another Day'', ''Alone in Kyoto'' or ''Biological'' (whose quaint banjos also bring to mind Japanese ethno-electronicists World Standard)
But let's not forget the beautiful tunes. These are what stop Talkie Walkie (and its predecessors) from being just dinner party music for stoners. Starting with the minimum of bleeps and beats each track takes its time to build into swooningly sumptuous melodies. Suddenly you find yourself genuinely moved. Even the charming Bach-lite of ''Mike Mills'' (and how many other tracks named after bass players do you know?) takes what could have been something approaching Tubular Bells, and turns it on its head by luxuriating in the innocent pleasure of music; pure and simple. Formidable... User Comments