Tomorrow's World - Tomorrow's World

by Sarah Allen Rating:7 Release Date:2013-04-08

Pay attention at the back please, this is going to be a maths lesson of sorts.

Air + New Young Pony Club = A+, right?

In reality, the correct answer is: Not exactly, but not far off, either. Plus, the equation is not entirely true.

Paris-meets-London and legend-meets-rookie in this unlikely musical coupling between Air's Jean-Benoit Dunckel (or 'JB') and Lou Hayter. Hayter cut her proverbial pop teeth playing keyboards for New Young Pony Club. But it was her vocals with solo project The New Sins which got JB's attention nearly three years ago. So great was the chemistry between the pair, they went from intending to make just one track together to quickly ending up with 11.

The resulting self-titled album is a fascinating and delicious mix of dark synths and fragile vocals. But it's not all fun and games. Opening track 'A Heart That Beats for Me' dances dangerously close to pretentious drivel, with Hayter droning on about the future in a dreamy monologue. But thankfully, the bass and beat take over to save the track and Hayter pipes down a bit.

'Catch Me' perfectly exemplifies the heavy/light combination both sides lend to the project, with Hayter representing a victim on the run with Dunckel's menacing and slightly robotic vocals providing the role of the hunter. The story behind this track is pretty intense. Hayter was mugged in the middle of writing the song, which contains lyrics like, "Don't try to run/ Your time has come."

Resident Brit Hayter shows off her bilingual skills as she sings with Dunckel on 'Pleurer Et Chanter', only frustrating for its French lyrics. I think I caught the word 'eyes' in there somewhere. Even though I have no idea what's being said, this is still a pretty good song.

'Drive' is among the album's highlights, a track about a woman escaping her past in a fast car which kicks off with a Human League 'Don't You Want Me'-esque synth intro. 'So Long My Love' also makes the grade, and I look forward to hearing it on the catwalks during London Fashion Week this September. But it is the funky and dark 'You Taste Sweeter' which takes the cake. This one is great for night driving around town in a half-decent car. 'Life on Earth' is also difficult to dislike. It's damn near perfect.

However, familiar sounds creep in occasionally. 'Don't Let Them Bring You Down' could be straight from Air's 2001 album 10,000 Hz Legend, with drums reminiscent of 'How Does It Make You Feel'. The more I hear 'Metropolis', meanwhile, with cheesy lyrics like, "Love will see us through/ Me and you," the more it reminds me of Zero 7, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

A 'bad thing' is 'Think of Me', a slightly trippy and very boring track that not even an Air legend's vocals can save. 'Inside' is another tolerable but noticeable disappointment, particularly for a school of listeners who believe the closing track of an album should be cataclysmic, or at the very least memorable. Instead, this is a soporific and lengthy, but not entirely hideous, farewell.

As their title suggests, the pair clearly wants to create a new sound with their first project, an ambitious ideal I don't think has been achieved yet. Although the album is a joint effort, with both Dunckel and Hayter co-writing the material, you get the feeling Dunckel is teaching a student and this debut would be nothing without his production. So for now, Air + The New Sins = Air.

Class dismissed.

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