[18 September 2012]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
I’m usually reluctant to lift things off press releases unless they’re solely factual, but there’s a reference to Woolfy Vs Projections second album-length collaboration, The Return of Love, in the corresponding press release that’s too good to pass up. You see, the press sheet calls this music “Air covering Steely Dan” and I find that a quite à propos mention as there are moments on this record that sound like the French synth pop duo tackling everyone’s favourite ‘70s jazz rock fusionists. Heck, even the percussion on “Nina” is directly and unabashedly lifted from Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” wholesale. Considering that I really love Steely Dan – I consider Katy Lied and Aja to be bona fide desert island discs – and have admiration for Air, you’d think I’d gobble up this platter. But, alas, not really.
The problem with The Return of Love is that it is, in many ways, a faithful replication of ‘70s disco and ‘80s synth pop without doing very much that’s new. And many of these songs run into the five and six-minute range (and feel much, much longer), which would be OK if there were actual hooks to most of the material, but much of the stuff is a bit languid, rote and boring. That said, there are some interesting detours: there are moments in the album’s second half that sound exactly like they came from Bryan Ferry in his Boys and Girls and Bête Noire era, and final song “Cherry Blossom” sounds almost exactly like Morrissey so that if you squint your ears, you’ll think you’re hearing the Moz himself. However, The Return of Love is as lifeless and antiseptic as the music it attempts to replicate. Your mileage may vary, but one would hope that this duo would spend less time recreating a rather dated sound, a novelty, and try their hand in the future at something that actually is a bit more novel. All in all, The Return of Love is less Air, and more airlock.