6 · Talkie Walkie
“We are electronic performers” went the opening track of Air’s 10,000 Hz Legend—a perfect performance for testing consumer electronics, as I found when trying out new stereo components. They followed their own instructions (“Don’t Be Light”) on the heavy second album, but on Talkie Walkie the lightness is back. It’s a sunny melange of French accents, acoustic guitar sounds, synthesized flutes and the usual electronic noises, taking the best features of Moon Safari and its sequel and running with them. The result was my soundtrack for January, and “Mike Mills” one of my favourite tracks of the year.
Basement Jaxx took electronic performances in a rootier direction (did anyone tell them what that title means in Oz?) on their third album Kish Kash, full of dance-floor rave-ups like “Supersonic” and the almost-title track. Not always to my taste, but all worth a listen. Less consistent was the Prodigy’s comeback, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. It opens brilliantly with “Spitfire”, and the single “Girls” is strong enough, but some of the tracks that follow won’t be starting anyone’s fire.
I also caught up with Massive Attack’s 100th Window this year, after boycotting the copy-protected disk in the new-release racks in 2003. It’s better than I’d heard: full of brooding soundscapes, with guest vocalist Sinead O’Connor sounding right at home. Not a bad successor to Mezzanine, but not an album for a sunny day. Or buying new.