What Air achieved may seem simple now, but at the time was deceptively clever. In true Gallic fashion they melded cheese with cool, making the two indistinguishable. The bubbling synths, lush strings and funky loungecore Fender Rhodes; all were signifiers for the contemporary trend for reclaiming the easy listening schlock of the early '70s. But somehow Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel created the perfect blend for post-clubbing languor.
It's not just one great fondue though. Before Sean Rowley invented the odious Guilty Pleasures franchise these French kids were incorporating the the best of the Beach Boys and ELO: Often on one track (Remember). Vocoders (Kelly watch The Stars), doomy synth pads (Sexy Boy) and rippling acoustic guitars were all used, ironically or not. And when guest vocalist, Beth Hirsch sang on All I Need, the tunes could almost break your stimulant-weary heart.
Eventually one senses that Moon Safari became the band's albatross. In later years even the writers felt the need to turn what would become to be known as a classic 'chillout' album into pummellingly loud concert numbers, just to get something new out of them. But at its heart MS is a wonderfully pretty album, and as a precursor to the likes of Lemonjelly and their ilk it remains a landmark. It's up to you, the horizontal listener, as to whether you can still really hear it. Let's hope so! --Chris Jones
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La Femme d'Argent& relaxes you into your seat/bed/cell in 7 minutes of musical perfection which, although it can play unobtrusively in the background, demands that every chord and note is listened to, and absorbed. Tracks like this, and the beautiful Ce Matin La are contrasted by the poppy, high-bass Sexy Boy.
The album is consistent in the relaxed, but by no means easy-listening nature of the tracks, but also wonderfully diverse in its styles. The introduction of a female voice on All I Need and You Make it Easytakes the emphasis off the instrumentalists, and allows them to play with a beautiful set of vocal harmonies.
If you want dinner party music, do not buy this album - it's just too good to be played in the background.
Sexy Boy is still their most famous song and although a top tune, is not particularly indicative of their more laid-back style. Songs such as this may sound repetitive at first, but after a few listens, they become hypnotic, with delicate and intricate changes on each verse and chorus.
Beth Hirsh's breathy, Jane Birkin-like vocals add sex to the combination, and songs like Kelly Watch the Stars make ostensibly robotic, synthesised music sound as soulful and rootsy as any blues band.
Elsewhere there's the trumpet motif of Ce Matin-La and the pre-Cher Vocoder antics of Remember, the sadness of New Star in the Sky and the bleakness of Talisman.
Every song is beautifully crafted and performed, spanning the supposed gulf between primal dance music and pan-generational songsmithery.
Definitely the first 21st Century pop album.
Ok, maybe Sexy boy does get a bit repetative but you will never find yourself skipping any of these tracks.
My personal favourite is All I Need, which is one of my favourite songs ever. But they all come close with Kelly Watch the Stars, You Make It Easy, Le Voyage de Penelope and Talisman all coming close to the quality of All I Need.
Try our Simple Things by Zero 7 but don't get that instead. Get this and you won't be sorry.
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