Two years after the arrival of their debut album, the French twosome Air returned, not with a proper sophomore LP, but with The Virgin Suicides, a full soundtrack to the directing debut of Sofia Coppola. Only one track, "Playground Love," has vocals, and that comes from an outsider (Gordon Tracks) who sounds more like the Auteurs' Luke Haines than Beth Hirsch, the only real vocalist employed previously. The trademarked Air sound is for the most part unchanged; as on Moon Safari, producers Godin and Dunckel rely on contemplative electronic mood-music in a minor key, heavy on the analog synth and organ yet with plenty of traditional textures (guitar, brass, strings, live-sounding drums) in keeping with lounge music and space-pop from the 1960s and '70s. And though all the music here is as meticulously detailed as the tracks on Moon Safari, the soundtrack cultivates an atmosphere more in league with traditional scoring -- instead of focusing on pop songs in an electronic context, Air constructed these tracks as mere soundbytes, simple themes with little embellishment on the basic ideas. Of course, that's perfectly in keeping with the secondary role soundtracks should play to truly serve the movies for which they're composed. Listeners eager for a second dose of the exquisite electronic pop found on Moon Safari will be pleased with much of The Virgin Suicides, but will probably have to wait until Air's proper follow-up to find more evidence of their greatness.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush