Hanging With Air

That's not to say the three LPs that followed "Moon Safari" have been failures. French bands with one good album don't play the Theater at Madison Square Garden. But "Pocket Symphony" isn't the only new album that Air has a part in. The group recently worked with French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg on her first solo release.

Gainsbourg is the daughter of legendary singer Serge Gainsbourg and his film star wife, Jane Birkin. Serge Gainsbourg is a pillar of French music, but don't go mad looking for old clips of him singing "La Marseillaise" — unless you're hot for a reggae version. He's better known for songs like "Je t'aime … moi non plus" and "Lemon Incest." His daughter made a slightly controversial appearance in the latter video. Her mom is heard, history insists, in the first.

"We did an album for Charlotte. … She is an actress, very nice-looking and super-stylish," Dunckel says. "To me, it sounds classical, but because the songs are well produced and [Charlotte's] lyrics are very nice and very clever."

As for their American tour, they are playing alone — but for the soldout crowds at most of the venues they visit.

"We played in Washington, and there were girls dancing and they were expressing their love for us," Dunckel says. "They were dancing and shouting and applauding. Generally in America, it seems like people express more. Audiences express more than in Europe."

Godard agrees. "They have a positive attitude," he says. "They want to have fun when they see a show. ... When you go to one of our shows, for like one hour and a half, you forget all your problems. You forget where you are. You are just in another dimension. That is the point."

"I want to see people caressing themselves," Dunckel says.

It seems a reasonable request. But with conservative rule now taking hold in France, will the bon vivant be banished, along with the 35-hour work week, in the name of global economic progress?

If you ask the boys from Air, it might not be the worst thing.

"People in France are obsessed by the personal relationship between your boyfriend or girlfriend. It's a very narrow-minded country for that," Godin says.

"In America," he says -- where, we needn't remind you, 35 hours is knocked out by Wednesday night — "you work so much you forget about it. So you don't realize you have pain because you don't have the time."

It's an interesting theory, something new French President Nicolas Sarkozy might subscribe to. His wife was photographed kissing another man in New York last year. Don't feel bad, though. The president will be a busy man.

But to be safe, "The Mix" is going to airmail one copy of "Moon Safari" to the Palais de l'Élysée.

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