Beautifully preserved in amber...
'The Virgin Suicides'

First, the facts.

This was Air's second full length outing, the soundtrack to the Sofia Coppola-directed adaptation of Jeffery Eugenides' novel 'The Virgin Suicides'.

The story concerns five teenage sisters who take their own lives over a period of a few months. Now, on paper such tragic circumstances should make for a heartbreaking story, however the film and soundtrack opt for a hazy melancholy rather than the expected air of doom.

As a follow up to their breakthrough 'Moon Safari' album, the diversion into soundtrack work was an ideal move for the French duo, their music lending itself to the cinematic format with little compromise to their sound.

The soundtrack itself opts for a sequence of short, 'pop' length tracks rather than an orchestral whole, with dialogue from the film peppered evocatively throughout. From the shimmering ballad 'Playground Love', featuring Phoenix's Thomas Mars on vocals, to the furious instrumental workout of 'Dead Bodies', all contain that essence of early period Air: organic instrumentation and analogue synths delivered with a quintessentially French louche-ness.

As a creative exercise it remains amongst Air's best, the limitations of a soundtrack format aside, with 'Playground Love' remaining a fan favourite. For Air, the exercise was a bittersweet one, only discovering at the film premiere that a mere fraction of their music had been used in the final cut.

This 15th anniversary edition comes with additional studio outtakes and a batch of live recordings from the period. Interesting listening that supply a new perspective on the studio album, beautifully preserved in amber.

8/10

Words: Nick Annan

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