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Air

Pocket Symphony (Astralwerks)

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Predictably, Jarvis Cocker's appearance on Pocket Symphony's "One Hell of a Party" is causing a stir. But it really only suggests that Air made this album in the same mind-set as Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55, which Air essentially wrote with Cocker. This spells good news and bad for anyone who noticed that 2004's Talkie Walkie captured our favorite skeevy-looking Frenchmen at their peak -- years after they had already achieved do-no-wrong darling status with critics.

Here's the good: With Nigel Godrich onboard, Air's rich atmospheres don't get pushed to the margins, as they did on the Gainsbourg project. Now for the bad: The duo almost entirely avoids the catchiness that made Talkie Walkie such a treasure. To be fair, Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin are nothing if not risk-takers. To follow Talkie Walkie's snap-crackle-pop with a languid, melancholy program such as this is precisely what we should expect from a group who once declared an artist's job is to try things they're not initially capable of pulling off. So whether it sucks you in, bores you completely, grows on you over time, or just strikes you as nice background music for your morning crossword, you won't be humming much.

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