The Virgin Suicides OST by Air (Review)
Franco-phonics has never been a staple of the American pop charts. But the French duo Air’s first two US releases hit the airwaves with a vengeance, taking their hipster hi-fi from the Astralwerks label all the way to a Clairol TV ad. Armed with an arsenal of vintage effects wizardry and geek computer precision, Air’s mix on these two albums was a crisp whirl of playful, yet serene auditory hallucinations.
Their latest release is the score for “The Virgin Suicides,” Sophia Coppola’s first foray into the world of filmmaking. A significant departure from the surround sound ear candy of their earlier work, the album is structured with the instrumentation of ’70s psychedelia, adding drums, horns, and effected guitar to Air’s usual analog synthesizers.
Appropriate to the tone of a film depicting four beautiful and depressed teenage sisters, the music is dark and dreamlike, with indulgent empty spaces. A campy, naive melodrama resonates throughout the melodies — like a junior high production of “The Glass Menagerie.” And in an effective soundtrack touch, a recurring synth cascade punctuates the tracks with a melancholy air.
Pink Floyd is obviously a major influence for Air, and their use of a signature hook is reminiscent of a Floydian theme album (think of the ringing pig squeal guitar from “Animals”). Although the drums leave Air sounding hollower than they did with the thick electronic pulse from their first two albums, it fits with the retro mood of the album. The eerie, bending envelopes of sound wrap around live drums in a style that could pass for Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, while the tinkling effects give it a “music box on mushrooms” feel.
“Virgin Suicides” may disappoint fans of the simplistic, yet lush electro mix of the band’s earlier work. The score is less penetratingly surreal, but the dark dreaminess of their keyboard explorations remains strong, without the cheesy song resolution that the band has resorted to in the past. Challenging while still entertaining, Air’s latest work should go over well with those looking for a late-night mood album.
Written by Paul Fain.