Featuring the first new material from former My Bloody Valentine fulcrum Kevin Shields in 12 years, this is a bit special. Air’s soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s 1999 directorial debut The Virgin Suicides proved to be one of the most durable of recent years (and it’s been simultaneously reissued by the same label), and this?for her new film?comfortably matches that for understated, dreamy grandeur. Shields’ four contributions are everything you’d hope for, and MBV’s “Sometimes” also lends a grungy kind of grace.
The film, shot in Japan, “contemplates unexpected connections” and stars Bill Murray and Scarlett (Ghost World) Johansson. It’s a love letter to Tokyo. Quite how the music interfaces with that notion remains to be seen, but it’s all very spectral, brittle and beautiful. Air themselves offer a new track, “Alone In Kyoto”, and Death In Vegas are remarkably restrained on “Girls”. There are also distracting, delicate wisps of things from Squarepusher, Phoenix, and the more-interesting-than-their-names-might-suggest Brian Reitzell and Roger J Manning Jr, whose “On The Subway” and “Shibuya” are wonderful. The set closes with The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ’80s indie landmark “Just Like Honey”.
But it’s the Shields numbers everyone will be gagging to hear, his decade-plus of reticence having firmly established him as the Syd Barrett of shoegazing. How to describe these sonic equivalents of near-invisibility, which somehow hint at every emotion under the sun? When MBV were at their peak every review was either dauntingly highbrow or freakishly over-effusive. It’s hard to resist similar impulses this time around. Perhaps I should just give you the titles?”City Girl”, Goodbye”, “Ikebana”, “Are You Awake?”?and say that if for too long you’ve been pining for Isn’t Anything and Loveless like a war widow, a strange dark joy is about to re-enter your head.