Two years ago I had visions of starting a music blog. How original. In preparation of starting the project I created an alphabetized, extensive, and lovingly compiled handwritten list of bands that I intended to cover. At the top of that meticulously mapped out list sat Air Traffic. Every time I started to work on the project I would look to the legal pad, see that name scrawled, and start scouring for Air Traffic internet fodder. It was unanimously unearthed that Air Traffic was going to be huge. The band was composed of young Brits, who played a polished style of piano-driven pop and already had an acclaimed EP (Never Even Told Me Her Name) under their belt and a spot on EMI imprint label Tiny Consumer. In the nearly year and a half’s time that has passed since my ambitious-though-unfilled project originated, Air Traffic has managed to release their first proper album, Fractured Life, first in the UK and recently in the United States.
Air Traffic has already received considerable press and lengthy commercial consideration. The song “I Like That” is featured on the soundtrack to Run, Fatboy, Run, the latest Simon Pegg movie. They’ve also been regulars on the BBC’s Radio 1 and have been featured on MTV UK and are shoo-ins for similar success on MTV here in the States.
Fractured Life is an immaculately dressed up pop record. Singer and songwriter Chris Wall uses the album to showcase his grandiose vocal range. The U.S. version of the album features the track “Come On,” a slow moving rock epic that precedes the bands most known track, the poignant pop-punk gem “Charlotte,” which has a wailing Wall shouting “I’m wasted/face down on the floor/Can’t take anymore/I gave it all away” and “Lately I can’t find the eyes/help me realize/I’m in love.” To punctuate “Charlotte,” a song that’s exuberance is largely misrepresentative of the sound of Fractured Life, Wall ends with the memorable rant, “your face, my place.”
With nearly half the tracks on Fractured Life being piano ballads it’s largely a moody affair. Air Traffic have been praised shamelessly for their track “No More Running Away,” which features Wall whining “We’re out of luck this time/We’ve fallen apart” a la Coldplay’s Chris Martin and “Shooting Star,” a song chronicling the bands rapid ascent to stardom. These songs along with “Time Goes By” sit in succession at the center of Fractured Life and typify the band at its best, backed by a piano with Wall going borderline falsetto on your ass. Songs like the bouncy “I Like That” and the early internet circulators “Just Abuse Me” and “Never Even Told Me Her Name” add masculinity and dancehall cred to Fractured Life and place the band well outside the confines of pop music.
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