French duo Jean-Benoît Dunckel & Nicolas Godin or Air are an Electronica band from Paris and have released Twenty Years, a collection of the bands iconic and previously unreleased tracks.
By Jane Howkins.
Twenty Years is not a new collection as such, but rather an accumulation of Air’s greatest and most well known tracks. It’s a great record for new fans to start off listening to the group, as well as a nice place for casual fans to come back to the band and pick up where they left off.
Air first came to life in France circa 1995, consisting of duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel. Since then they’ve released eight studio albums, so it seems like a fitting time for the band to have released their first proper best-of record. All eight of the group’s albums are represented in some form, although it is perhaps telling that the majority of the songs seem to have been handpicked from Air’s revered début album Moon Safari, with a further five from their third full length, Talkie Walkie. This highlights how popular those two albums were and it’s arguable that if a fan wants to hear songs from those two albums then they’ll just listen to both albums, but it’s still a good starting point for newer fans unsure of where to start with the group’s vast discography.
It’s also great to hear that these songs still stand up on their own, some twenty to fifteen years later. Everyone knows Sexy Boy, but less well known tracks like Venus and Alpha Beta Gaga sound fresh to the years, even fifteen years after their original release. It’s a true testament to Air’s skill at mixing modern electronic music with the musicality of a 1960s pop song.
So in essence, Twenty Years acts best as a refresher course for casual Air fans, or a place for unsure newcomers to start. It’s a testament to Air that they have so many great tracks available, and they could probably fill up another best-of compilation with those that have been left off this collection. But if you’re a more hardcore fan, or someone wanting to go through the group’s full collection, then it’s recommended that you start from the beginning with Moon Safari.