Talkie Walkie

Since its transcendent 1998 debut, Moon Safari, French duo Air has been flying under the musical radar. It composed the score for the 1999 film The Virgin Suicides and was the backing band for last year’s magnificent debut album from Zero 7. Talkie Walkie is Air’s proper follow-up. It’s more minimalist than any previous efforts and, on its own, worthwhile. But given the brilliance of Air’s past work, it falls a bit flat, leaning too much toward breathy, soulless vocal tracks. On previous albums, Air’s lush instrumentations and moody rhythms held the spotlight. The album kicks off nicely with the track “Venus,” a poppy vignette hearkening back to new-wave 1980s. Other highlights: the gorgeous instrumentals “Mike Mills” and “Alone in Kyoto” illustrate why Air should simply be an instrumental band.