Air – The Virgin Suicides

The first movie soundtrack which we reviewed on this blog was Air‘s Le Voyage dans la Lune, a couple of years ago. It is therefore only right that we commence this series of reviews with Air‘s other main moment of cinematic glory, their soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides.

The first song on the soundtrack is the quite exceptional Playground Love. Somehow during their first few years, Air seemed not only to have a particular magic which they would suddenly bring out of nowhere, but it somehow managed to always be surprising too. Playground Love is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

For the most part, though, this album is largely instrumental, drawing on Air‘s passion for soaring strings with grubby electronic backing and acoustic noodling. Clouds Up may be the shortest piece on the album, but it’s definitely one of the best.

A bit of cross-referencing with the film might be useful here, but it’s the music we’re interested in. Bathroom Girl, with its haunting organ chords and somehow driving melancholy, is another excellent moment. This is followed by the grumpier Cemetery Party and Dark Messages, and then the almost iconically Air-sounding The Word ‘Hurricane’.

The central track on the album is Dirty Trip, which essentially does everything you might expect from the title – with a jaunty happy drum pattern, the deep and melancholic organ and bass help carry the truly beautiful mood through the album.

For Highschool Lover, we take a trip back to the first track, for a piano version of Playground Love, and while it was definitely the vocal which made the original what it was, it definitely deserves a reprise. Then Afternoon Sister is a return to the moody Air sound that you should have learnt to love with Premiers Symptômes (1997) and Moon Safari (1998).

The later tracks are no less haunting and beautiful – Ghost Song and Empty House both exude a particularly dismal mood while remaining no less enjoyable. The crescendo of Dead Bodies is truly chilling, and then Suicide Underground, with its bizarrely slowed down and effects-laden narrative is an exceptional closing track.

So even without having seen the film, it seems fair to conclude that The Virgin Suicides is definitely an album which can easily be enjoyed on its own. Even if you don’t agree with that statement, it does have the fantastic Playground Love, which can’t be found elsewhere.

You can still find The Virgin Suicides online at all major retailers, such as here. There’s also a compilation here, and the DVD of the movie is here.

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