Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #12 Air


The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!

Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.

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#12 Air

Air have always been dreamers. It’s news to me that some time after the moniker “AIR” was created, the band shifted it into a post-creation acronym for “Amour, Imagination, Rêve” – meaning “love, imagination, dream.” I’m always happy when artists can objectively define their schtick (less work for me!) because that trio of words pinpoint Air’s style with precision.

1998’s Moon Safari was their best early stuff, but Air probably hit cruising altitude – and solidified their niche – with Talkie Walkie. The album exudes relaxation, but in a manner that is nevertheless crisp, sharp. It’s proof that slow doesn’t have to equal boring – the opener features percussive piano and punchy, reverberating handclaps, which balance out one of the most soothing voices in all of music. It carries through all the way to the close – “Alone in Kyoto,” in which blurry but nevertheless shimmering blips spiral beneath precise guitar and a soft, detuned keyboard. The balanced elements in each track are what lend Air so much depth.

It’s important to note that Air is not a one trick pony. They’ve seen considerable variation from each album to the next, and their live act is punchier and – dare I say it – even a little bit dancy. What they do live has always exhibited their musicianship and ability to experiment, an impressive skill that gets lost in the smooth production of their recorded material. Basically, Air’s the full package – focused and adept at achieving a heightened mood, though that mood is always changing. They’ve been around for a while, and Pocket Symphony is proof that they’re still going strong.

[ play ] | [ download mp3 ] Air - Once Upon A Time

Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.

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