M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011)

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83’s epic double-album successor to the astounding Saturdays = Youth.

“Midnight City” was my introduction to M83. Released a few months prior to the album, it was the perfect hook. Its unique and addictive riff, gargantuan but suitably enigmatic vocals and its gorgeous sax outro made it one of the best singles of the year for me and I’m still going back and loving it even now, but would M83’s newest release live up to the expectations it was set, and would it be bigger and bolder than his greatest work Saturdays = Youth?

Welcome to Anthony Gonzalez’s fantasy world, or to be more specific his 80’s childhood. Drawing up nostalgia for his since-passed youth and riding the 80’s aesthetic wave currently saturating the music biz at the moment, Hurry Up oscillates back and forth from the emotional lows of “Wait” and “Splendor” to the euphoric highs of “Midnight City” and “Claudia Lewis”, like the confused hormones of the teenager it reminisces over. Things appear to have become more diffuse since Saturdays, Gonzalez’s vocals becoming bigger, bolder, more ambitious, but even less clear; the slow deterioration of memory perhaps? Yet others, like the passionate “Reunion” and the cute child’s voice of “Raconte-Moi Une Historie”, stand out with amazing clarity. The somewhat mysterious and ambiguous nature of the lyrics still remains true to his style, however, and if anything their impact has increased several fold as a result of Gonzalez pushing it further than ever.

The jam-packed first disc moves along to the somewhat more subdued second disc. The thrills and euphoria of D1 are replaced with more wistful numbers, like the opener “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea”, where Gonzalez’s heartfelt vocals are met with huge synth and heavy percussion, and “Splendor”‘s beautiful piano, gentle guitar and uplifting chorals. The stunning “OK Pal” and “Year One, One UFO” perfectly counterbalance these downtempo tracks with progressive and heady synth, the only true vestiges of cheesey 80’s synth here, followed up by the devastatingly heartfelt “Steve McQueen”;

“I just can’t recognise myself

Tears of joy all over my face

My sensations reach the limit

Nothing can hurt me today”

But spinning this out onto 2 discs was unnecessary. There’s just over an hour of material within the two combined, he could very easily have made this a single but I can also see why he didn’t. The flow of this album is damn near perfect; something about breaking the bigger tracks up between instrumental filler tracks (with ambience ala Digital Shades) makes this much easier to digest. It both complements the more active tracks by slowing down the pace, but at the same time it also frustratingly breaks the flow set by the more powerful tracks that fall in sequence (1-3 on the disc 1 for example). A love-hate relationship for me, one that does ruin the experience for me a little.

An extremely competent album by a seasoned musician and a truly worthy successor to Saturdays = Youth. The only question left is: How is he going to beat this next time?

9/10

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