The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | ‘Talkie Walkie’ remains magically timeless 20 years after release

Photo Courtesy of Genius
Album cover of Talkie Walkie by French electronic music duo Air, released on Jan. 26, 2004.

It’s been 20 years since the release of French duo Air’s remarkable third studio album “Talkie Walkie.” The album created one of the most unique listening experiences of the 2000s, providing an ethereal journey of dreamy melodies and wafting instrumentation woven between electronic dissonance and lulling vocals.

“Talkie Walkie” came after the disappointingly misunderstood release of Air’s discordant sophomore album “10 000 Hz Legend,” which left both critics and fans underwhelmed by the album’s lack of a cohesive identity.

But “Talkie Walkie” leaves nothing to be misunderstood. 

Only 10 tracks long, the album is immediately transparent in announcing that “Talkie Walkie” isn’t just hook-laden electric pop that you would hear in a French club. Instead, it is a futuristic journey through an alluring fantasy world of unhurried vocals and dream-like instrumentation, smoothly glossing over trance-like synths and a playful acoustic guitar. 

There is no hidden depth behind the lyrics, nothing extensive or profound to dig through, but it’s evident that the album is more than just surface-level pop seeped in electronic beats and distorted vocals.

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The album doesn’t need an added layer of sincerity to create a dreamlike masterpiece. “Talkie Walkie” is flagrantly carefree and blatantly optimistic, each song infectiously sappy, the lyrics unveiling a glaring cheesiness that sits behind the starry instrumentation and warm beats. 

It’s 43 minutes of pure auditory excess, trance-like melodies and ethereal synths; each sound and texture weaving together to produce astonishingly alluring tracks, enhanced by a thick production and lush instrumentation that leads to a precarious balance between reality and imagination. 

The album begins with “Venus,” a dazzling opening track led by a discordant piano combined with the swirling of strings and keys to create a celestial atmospheric landscape that only Air is capable of. 

“Venus” delicately creates an expanse of lavish harmonies and trippy refrains, gracefully preparing the listener for the illusive album to come.

Track two, “Cherry Blossom Girl,” admires the beauty of Air’s electronic sound and organic elegance, basking in moments of delicate instrumentation and cathartic vocals.

“I just want to say ‘hi’ to the one I love/ Cherry blossom girl,” Air sings, their glossy vocals swelling over the swirling chorus and pulsating chords.

“Cherry Blossom Girl” is fueled by an addictive rhythm and a thick arrangement of enticing strings and harmonious chords, dripping with electronic flawlessness.  

Track three, “Run,” is carried by a listless wave of new-age keyboards and distorted vocals that highlight the electro-pop current that weaves its way throughout the album. 

The song effortlessly intertwines reality with imagination, spinning together whispered harmonies and weightless synths to create a frothy electronic distortion. 

The harmonic chorus of unhurried vocals and illusive waves of strings course through the song before eventually dissolving into a computerized humming and untraceable pulsation.

It’s trippy and weird, inviting the listener further away from reality with off-key keyboards and distorted voices before fading into a blend of feathery vocals. 

Track four, “Universal Traveler,” is a seamless fusion of electronic and organic elements, coupled with dreamy melodies and ambient orchestral swells.

I know so many places in the world/ I follow the sun in my silver plane,” Air sings on this distinctly French arrangement of retro-futurism.

It’s as if you are timidly exiting a spacecraft and taking a step out into a world unknown — it’s innovative and up-tempo, soulfully whispered melodies against a syrupy electronic beat.

Track six “Surfing on a Rocket” is overwhelmed with artificial beauty. Ambient synths paired with atmospheric harmonies and hypnotic lyrics create something lavishly spacey and infectiously dreamlike. 

The song is delicate, feathered with a distinctive bridge that dissolves into a blissful arrangement of swirling orchestral sound and celestial charm.

Featured in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003), the album’s final track “Alone in Kyoto” is a captivating sonic journey that beautifully combines dreamy melodies and ethereal vocals — a final assertion of starry enchantment.

The purely instrumental song begins with a skittering beat before blossoming into an orchestral renaissance, sprawling in the delicate electronic beauty that saturates the album before fading out to the sound of ocean waves crashing onto a beach — a purposely simplistic way to conclude the album that doesn’t rid the listener of all its majestic production.

“Talkie Walkie” is magically timeless, still glazed over with electronic perfection even 20 years after its release. Rich in instrumentation and enchantingly effervescent, the album basks in complexity while being simultaneously undemanding, creating a transcending display of illusive beauty.


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About the Contributor
Annisyn Krebs-Carr
Annisyn Krebs-Carr, Senior buzz Reporter
Hi, I’m Annisyn! I am currently a freshman majoring in journalism. I started with The Daily Illini in Fall 2023 as a buzz staff writer, and became Senior buzz Reporter in the spring. I’m excited to be a part of The DI editorial team, and I’m looking forward to writing more arts and entertainment content. When I’m not writing for The DI, I enjoy playing with my dogs and watching movies. For any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at my email below.
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