The scenester pretentiousness of Air's early albums has been replaced with something a bit quieter and a bit warmer, and that's a huge step in a very good direction. The problem is, there's still no depth to either the music or the words. While their older albums, like Moon Safari, always reminded me of the self-important jackasses who frequent trendy parties, Pocket Symphony reminds me of being stuck listening to the shallow confessions of the same jackasses after the parties had faded into the light of day.
At its best, the music is reminiscent of cheesy synthpop ballads by mopey guys with silly hair; at its worst, it's like melodramatic new age compositions by overwrought men with silly moustaches. The lyrics possess the depth and wisdom of a hungover hipster who is filled with half-formed regrets. When Air actually tackles a pop song, it's like hearing a dumber version of James Taylor or Dan Fogelberg. Even guest spots by Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), and Tony Allen (Fela Kuti, The Good The Bad The Queen) can't breathe life into this dud.
The idea of having translucent action figures created of JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin was pretty cool, and it's worth reading the write-up on the cover art at Sleevage. With that said, the fact that the band is represented as a couple of clear plastic toys is remarkably appropriate.
Listen if you like: Soft rock of the '70s mixed with soft new age of the '80s.
If it were food, it'd be: white bread with margarine.