Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hurry Up, I'm Dreaming

by George Bate

So I wrote a review for the latest M83 album about 2 months ago when I first stole it. It never ended up being published, but I think it's one of my strongest reviews so I thought I'd throw it over here for starters. Enjoy.

M83 have never ceased to be ambitious; their synths set to “epic”, their guitars to “soaring”, and their spiel? Well, either grandiose or pretentious, depending on your perspective, after all, M83 claim that every record they produce is created as the soundtrack to some imaginary movie. It will come as no surprise then, for those familiar with the work of Anthony Gonzales and his cohorts, that their latest album comes in the form of a two-disc song cycle about the nature of dreams and contains a song, narrated by a child, about a hallucinogenic experience bought about by the poking of a frog. Strewth, this album is beginning to sound more like a creation of some 70s prog behemoth rather than a group most recently known for appealing electropop and songs about teenage love.

M83, however are a band that have always inhabited the difficult middle ground between arty credentials and sheer listenability, and nowhere is this more evident than on lead single Midnight City, which will have been bouncing around the blogosphere with buoyant delight for several months by the time you read this. The track begins with a bizarre squeaky melody, which could have been created on one of those little yazoo things you get in cheap Christmas crackers, but doesn’t feel out of place in a song obviously designed to pull at the heartstrings. Did I mention the saxophone solo?

M83 pull off similarly bizarre tricks multiple times on this album; Year One, One UFO starts off sounding like Country Girl by Primal Scream but finishes, like many other tracks here, in a blaze of euphoric synthesisers. Elsewhere, obvious highlights include the optimistic Steve McQueen and the introductory track, which is lent a powerful ethereal vocal by doom-pop monger Zola Jesus.

There are a few missteps here; several ambient interludes add little in terms of the “tune” factor but serve as useful down time amongst the loftier kitchen-sink type tracks, and a few of the spoken word vocals may draw a cringe or two amongst the more mature members of M83’s audience. Nevertheless, M83 have pulled off the double album trick both endearingly and with aplomb. Few recent doubles have managed to sound so cohesive and yet so interesting (Kate Bush’s Aerial comes most strongly to mind), and there are at least five or six tracks with single potential that will have the money men rubbing their grubby hands together. Some would have suggested that M83 had overreached themselves in the creation of such a record, but the band really have managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with an album that manages to be simultaneously joyous, epic and tuneful.

Score?: 4.5/5