100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #9

Air – Moon Safari

Here’s a weird “Did You Know?”: Mime artist Marcel Marceau released an album. No, seriously. It’s called ‘The Best of Marcel Marceau’ and it consists forty minutes of absolute silence followed by applause. “I like to put it on for company. It really bothers me, though, when people talk through it.” says Tom Waits. Despite the popularity of the Marcel Marceau record (yes, believe it or not it sold well), the weapon of choice for “expecting company” records is ‘Moon Safari’. If it’s as light and ignorable as that reputation suggests, what sets it apart from all the other down-tempo yuppie’s-dinner-party records of its kind? Maybe it’s the emotional depth and Bacharach-esque songwriting prowess that makes it a classic. Maybe it’s the fact that it means as much to the yuppies and their Habitat cutlery as it does to the couch-surfing party-goers and the alienated, lovesick teenagers. It’s a winning combo of warmly melodic spacey synth tones, unobtrusive and naturalistic beats, the odd earthy acoustic guitar pluck and a resounding humanity swimming through it all. It delves effortlessly into lounge jazz (‘La Femme D’Argent’), ambient (‘Talisman’), soulful balladry (‘All I Need’), sublime film score-esque instrumentals (‘Ce Matin La’) and streamlined murmuring pop songs (‘Sexy Boy’). ‘Moon Safari’ seems to be one of the few albums I own that seems to gain a new fan every time I play it in front of someone who hasn’t heard it, so its crossover appeal is clearly enormous. Even an absolute metal-head friend of mine loves this record, which is something akin to a straight bloke having a man-crush on Hugh Jackman (which, according to my friends is common, strangely enough). Overall though, no matter what style it dabbles in, it’s the strength of composition that is the trump card, and it’s that, rather than the lava-lamp sounds, that makes this the “expecting company” record of the last twenty years.

Listen to: Kelly Watch The Stars

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