RePLAY: AIR – Moon Safari

By Steve Earley
RePLAY is the little indulgent side of us coming out – every so often we’ll revisit a forgotten song or album, something that perhaps would have been better championed at the time with the existence of social media. In other words, if you didn’t listen to these at the time, you really should now. This week, token PressPLAY ginger Steve looks back at Air’s seminal Moon Safari.

It could have been yesterday, doing that impossible baked bean jigsaw and watching Alternative Nation on MTV2. A close up of a man’s bespectacled face looked left and right to a simple clangy guitar riff and moments later, two girls were bashing a ping pong ball back and forth to the vocodery sounds of Kelly Watched the Stars.

There hadn’t for a long time been a song so crisp it made ears click into place, like hearing things properly for the first time. It wasn’t emotional, it wasn’t deep, it was just…clarity. Moon Safari’s opening track Le Femme D’argent is so smooth and rainy and, though some at the time described it as ‘a bit porno’, that was an insult to the art of love-making (or what we imagined  love-making might be at that time).

Track after track on the album, Sexy Boy (shiny filthy and stomping), All I need (an underwater dream), the aforementioned Kelly Watched The Stars, You Make it Easy (smooth like Sade but without d’erb) – all lovely gold. Ce Matin-la is the epitome of resting your arms behind your head and drying off in the glorious rays of summer sun. New Star in the Sky with its “my baby blue is a new star…just for you, for nobody else” refrain is sort of devastating and comforting at the same time, reminding us that adding great little touches of pings and tingles and atmospheric samples can lift a song from a great listen to an ethereal experience. 
Le Voyage de Penelope might not be the best song on the album, but it’s the perfect song to close party that ends at just the right time. All your great friends and exciting new strangers go their separate ways and you can’t wait for everyone to get together again. And they do. Again and again and again.

Air have never bettered, or even matched Moon Safari. But it doesn’t really matter because listening to it now and still feels like the very first time. Vive la France.
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