Two years to the day after Swedish duo Air France called it quits, it’s difficult to think of a more appropriate tribute. Over the course of two EPs, a smattering of other non-album tracks, and a handful of remixes, Gothenburg-based Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt meticulously crafted a whole world of blissful yet aching, independent-minded pop. They drew from the Avalanches’ transportive collages, Saint Etienne’s tender-hearted stylishness, and the eclecticism of both the slow-groove style known as Balearic disco and novelty-crazed chart pop. (For more about Air France and their peers, check out SPIN’s profile of Swedish-pop precursors the Embassy, or Pitchfork’s feature on the label Sincerely Yours.)
Another thing about Air France and their friends, who also included the likes of Jens Lekman and CEO: When they reworked a song, they usually reimagined it in some way that went beyond the typical remix. Rather than merely cover Saint Etienne’s “London Belongs to Me,” for instance, they recorded their own hometown ode “GBG Belongs to Us” (clearing the way for Elite Gymnastics’ “Minneapolis Belongs to You” as well as Champions League’s “Paris Is Our Playground”); when they remixed Taken by Trees’ “Sweetness,” it became “The Sweetness of Air France.”
By comparison, New Zealand trio Yumi Zouma, whose self-titled debut EP came out last month on Cascine — the U.S.-U.K. label most faithfully carrying the flame for aesthetic of labels like Sincerely Yours and its forebear, Service — have turned in a relatively faithful cover of final Air France song “It Feels Good to Be Around You.” But there’s a major twist: Karlsson and Markstedt appear, reading a “love letter” to their former group. “Dear Air France …. Sometimes I think the way we met happened too fast,” goes one repeated line. Air France certainly ended too soon, as does this track, via devoted AF champions The Line of Best Fit.