Perfect track to perk-up a sleepy lethargic morning. Pure pop headiness with handclaps, breathless/atmospheric vocals and synth anthem riffs. I don't really know much about this Swedish band, but I do think that Pitchfork's review of the EP is spot-on. The word they use to describe Air France's sound is "Balearic" - named after the anthemic brand of disco/dance that emerged from the Mediterranean islands of Ibiza, Corsica, Marjorca, etc. Despite the fact that my musical tastes have developed rather eclectically throughout the years, I have a real soft spot for individuals who are able to craft blissful pop gems. Perhaps it's a sign of my age, but the over-produced synth goodness of pop from the 80s and 90s are sounds that still appeal to my ears these days.
Speaking of nostalgia, Serene and I were lamenting the demise of Chris Ho's column "Pop Life" in The Straits Times. If you are like me, and grew up in the shadow of Chris' music recommendations, you might want to read his swan song article if you haven't. I've reproduced his eloquently written, dignified but rather bittersweet farewell below.
The Straits Times (Singapore)
July 25, 2008 Friday
My musical send-off;
Singer Joni Mitchell will always be in my blood, even as I mark the end of this column next month
BYLINE: Chris Ho, poplife
SECTION: LIFE! - LIFE MUSIC
LENGTH: 794 words
T.S. ELIOT may claim that April is the cruellest month of the year but, to me, the cruellest is August. Come next month, this column of mine will cease to exist.
No big deal I know, but for a sentimentalist like me, it marks the end of this column's 25-year run, a long time for something as ephemeral as pop.
I remember when I first started this column, David Bowie was just crossing over to the mainstream with Let's Dance and Eurythmics were creating waves with Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This.
It was a time when my somewhat academic approach towards writing pop was deemed suitably edifying a perspective to lend credence to the subject, which was rather undervalued at the time. I was just thankful that studying literature in university gave me good background mileage in 'practical criticism' to appreciate poetic words.
It is no secret that my principal love has always been singer-songwriter music. After all, it was Joni Mitchell who gave me my 'great rock 'n' roll send-off'.
With her powerful lyricism and brave experimental style in the mid-1970s as primary influence, I felt I had connected with the very core of what rock 'n' roll is. Very simply, it is about being free with an eye on redemption. It is somewhat inexplicable a vibe, because you really have to feel it in order to know it.
With Mitchell's musical blessing, I felt I could ride with the bravado of Bowie, the punk of Iggy Pop, the decadence of Lou Reed and still take on the wild wonders of New Wave-dance-alternative-hardcore and whatever left-field noise or extreme metal there was.
To this day, I still live and breathe Mitchell (at least, all of her great work till 1979) for she is 'in my blood like holy wine', along with Jackson Brown, Tim Buckley and not a few others.
If my taste in music had, through the years, appeared esoteric or unfathomable, it is only because I am as much a 'trainspotter' as I am a dedicated supporter of great substance.
For what good is following the ever- changing tide of fashion or flavours-of-the- month if one is not blissfully grounded by the subliminal wow of true heavyweights?
Simply put, I follow trends to know what not to follow or buy into, and by 'true heavyweights', I do not mean what the collective consensus deems critically essential for the average consumer.
I have always prided myself in seeing what slipped through the cracks. For instance, I still uphold that Jhelisa's Language Electric is the 1990s' feminine equivalent of Marvin Gaye's masterpiece What's Goin' On. And that Billie Ray Martin's Deadline For My Memories is the unique Joni Mitchell-meets-Donna Summer foray into Studio 54's shuttered VIP-room of dire romantics.
By the way, did I ever tell you my self-propounded theory that Mitchell lost her greatest muse the day she stopped working with bassist Jaco Pastorius?
If all that seems insignificant, I am proud to recall that way before any big-time music rag (read: Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, the like) raved about REM, this column had called attention to the then-unknown band by way of their indie debut Chronic Town.
Not to mention Red Hot Chili Peppers, Los Lobos, U2... Some readers may remember more, but 25 years is too long to now capture in one breath.
And if all the Mitchell-talk renders me limited in outlook, I assure you I have ventured into a spectrum far wider than expected: from Judy Garland to Judas Priest, DJ Hell to Darkthrone, Johnny Cash to Butthole Surfers, Peggy Lee to Dick Lee.
In fact, I am guilty of being a stylistic scavenger hunting down all in search of that X-factor called great music.
Blame me for sounding egotistical, but my biggest regret in not being able to write this column anymore is the thought that from here on, no one is going to bother much about Rickie Lee Jones and Emmylou Harris. These artists, I believe, are now the true torchbearers of the Mitchell legacy.
Or, what if no one here recognises the great music of our own local players - from the late Michael Isaac to the new Max Shanti? Perhaps the world has changed, especially when John Mayer is now 'God' and Tori Amos seems to be the singer-songwriter goddess of them all.
What do I know? Except that this is a given directive of an exit for me in view of life's many changes. In particular, this one you are holding with a capital L and the exclamation suffix.
Well, this Pop Life has no big exclamation to end but a sad goodbye and a trite rationalisation that all pleasurable things do desist.
Relieved of the trite, I shall revel in my treasure trove of pop, punk, metal, country, folk, dance, ambient, jazz and rock to light the rest of my days.
May you be touched by your own Mitchell to seek a pop-life that is both gratifying and redeeming.
Best wishes always from me, an ardent music fan.