Monday, 10 October 2011

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

 Releasing a double album can mean a number of things, the main reasons being: an artist is releasing an album after a number of years and has an abundance of creativity and material, an artist is creating material with a concept or story too big for one album, or an artist is committing a plethora of throwaway tracks in a pretentious attempt to seem creative. For M83, the musical alias of 30-year-old Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez, there are hints of all three. Saturdays = Youth, the last album created by M83, was released to critical acclaim in 2008, despite Gonzalez lack of confidence in his own material. After its release, he relocated to California after living in Southern France for 29 years He often drove out to Joshua Tree to write and record music in a rented cabin in the middle of nowhere. Gonzalez fixation with double albums such as The Beatles White Album and Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, inspired him to create his own, Gonzalez calling it a statement.

The concept behind this double album being that one disc is “related” to the other. Track One on Disc One, the Zola Jesus featuring “Intro”, has a sibling in Track One on Disc Two, the grandiose “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea”. Listening to every song without knowing the concept makes this album a lot less enjoyable. The pairing of songs from different discs is reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘01 and 10 Playlist’ which combined ‘OK Computer’ with ‘In Rainbows’. The only difference being that M83’s paired songs sound similar to one another, joining together almost seamlessly. The best combination is the second coupling of “Midnight City” and “New Map”, both being among the best tracks. “Midnight City” was released as a free download, which should be a crime seeing as it’s one of the best songs of the year.

However, this ambitious project isn’t without its flaws. Does a double album really need six interlude tracks? While it does make the whole thing more accessible, it seems like the idea was too big for Gonzalez to carry out, instead it’s a somewhat lazy attempt. Aside from the interludes, another deficient track is the weird children’s story of “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire”. While the music is good, the child’s narrative is odd, the track would benefit greatly without it, leaving Anthony’s woozy falsetto to truly shine in the last minute-and-a-half. Gonzalez’ vocals are a cross between Panda Bear’s croon and Ezra Koenig’s yelp, and while it suits the music well, it will grate on some people after a while, even more considering this is a double album lasting over an hour.

While the music is similar, each track blends well with its sibling which is essential in showing Gonzalez’ creativity and talent as a musician. It isn’t the best double album you’ll ever hear, but you can’t blame Anthony for taking on such a massively difficult task, he can definitely be confident in the material he has made on this project.

By Calum Stephen

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