Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack

It comes as little surprise that the French retro-electro duo Air would fill out the time between albums with a soundtrack. Its mood-enhancing ambiance drips into set-placing grooves so smoothly that its magnum opus, Moon Safari, is practically a soundtrack itself -- maybe to some out-of-time foreign flick, maybe to a new-wave slice of life. Doesn't matter. The electronic rattle and hum that Air packs into its tunes has a purpose beyond the dance floor. And if it's not always cranium-challenging music, it is the best dose of electronica to be imported within the misguided, media-hyped techno boom/bust era.

This proper soundtrack -- to Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides -- plays some of the usual film-companion games along the way. Several of the 13 tracks rework themselves from a single theme, and the exploration of new musical terrain is pretty much nonexistent. Air was hired to produce, compose, and perform this score based on Moon Safari; anything straying too far from that model would miss the point of its being there in the first place. So Air more or less delivers Moon Safari as a soundtrack to accompany a film about five sisters' decline into despondency and its aftermath, with little of the playful winks that cheesed up (or down) its breakthrough. Which amounts to almost no airy vocals, no coy synth burps, and no funny flights of fancy.

Yet the somber tone that The Virgin Suicides sets is appropriate. This isn't exactly cheerful source material, and Air plays it straight throughout. The closing "Suicide Underground" combines psychoanalytical theorizing and a Floydish trip to the dark side of the moon for an atmospheric summation of The Virgin Suicides itself. The potential for black laughs is big here, but Air's Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel recount the girls' tale with such solemn narration that the big rock and roll ending doesn't feel so much like redemption as it does defeat. ("Playground Love," however, which features the only vocal track on the album -- by French singer Gordon Tracks -- manages to encompass the typical Air experience with wit intact.) Depressing stuff. And a fine, if occasionally flimsy, foray into a somewhat new stratosphere for its heavy-hearted creators. -- Michael Gallucci

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 18, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation