Air
w/Mosquitos

Thurs April 29, Paramount, 8 pm, $25-$30.

Due to their 1978 album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, Talking Heads are connected with the phrase "Talkie Walkie," which just happens to be the title of the fourth and newest CD from the French duo known as Air. To take it back further, there's Talking Heads' inspiration, Serge Gainsbourg's 1964 composition "Le Talkie Walkie," off his album Confidentiel. Air's Jean-Beno--t Dunckel swears Talkie Walkie is just the French term for what every English-speaking country calls a walkie-talkie. Right. I know both Dunckel and his partner Nicolas Godin are fans of Talking Heads and Gainsbourg, and I have a hard time believing the simple answer Dunckel's given isn't just him trying to bullshit me, but I let him go on anyway, because, well, it's his album, and I feel like an ass. But it begins to make sense soon enough. "No, it's a good example of how we do things differently as a band and with this [CD]," he says in a thick, nearly indecipherable accent, "and also, I think it's a good title for showing audiences that there is a sort of difference in translation of our lyrics from French to English."

To be sure, there is a huge difference in terms of theme when it comes to Air's debut, Moon Safari, which was sexy as hell, and Talkie Walkie, which is swooning and romantic. The latter sparkles with crushes and first loves, and the hope of spending a lifetime with only that one, new beloved. "If you walk in the sun/I will be your shadow/we will be together/lovers forever" comes from the album's opening track, "Venus," and if you listen carefully, church bells can be detected in the song's final seconds. As a listener, it's hard not to feel the longing for the freshness of spring, the perfect season for Talkie Walkie's love-soaked release to have come out--emotions felt deeply not only in the heart, but the soul, too.

"Romanticism is definitely the word for this new album," says Dunckel. "We wanted to speak about love but in a modern way because I think as boys we are romantics and I know that sometimes girls forget that boys are romantic too and we have our own special way to show it."

"Run" (which at times sounds a lot like one of the ultimate love songs posing as an anti-love song, 10cc's heart-clutching "I'm Not in Love," which Dunckel slyly admits to stealing from stylistically) is about those regret-laden five minutes a couple has left to spend in bed together before one or the other has to get up to go to work. "[Talkie Walkie] is about being lost in that world," says Dunckel, "because love also involves despair and melancholia, which is why we have that song 'Another Day,' which is an unctuous song about the fact that you are a human being on earth but you are a prisoner of time and the space and when something is over you have to wait. You can't skip the days."

The lyrics to "Another Day" further exemplify his point: "Say goodbye/sunshine and light/'cause it's just another day/you'll relive it anyway/Kiss the time/that goes away/'cause it's just another day/you'll relive it anyway." Goddamn. Then, "Alpha Beta Gaga" is happily whistled, as if by someone who is walking on air, feet never touching the ground and a head full of cinematic visions of that certain happiness we all have, or crave.

"Biological" goes even further and turns hair, skin, genes, and even fingerprints into an expression of describing attraction. "Some skin/billions of genes/again, it's you." Later, there's this line: "Let's fuse ourselves/to be as one tonight/a part of me would like to travel in your veins." It's also heavy with strings--just like on the opening track--which are provided by Gainsbourg collaborator Michel Colombier. "We tried to do romantic songs through electronic production," says Dunckel, before following that statement up with some surprising insight: "We also tried to express the lack of affection involved in the beginning of a new love--we need the tenderness with a girl and have some romantic moments, to caress and feel close. We made it about how people feel like they are in a cocoon, and in that there isn't always a deep affection, which is why I think this album is a success."

kathleen@thestranger.com