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M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

This release marks their first in over 3 years since ‚Saturdays=Youth‘, which was an album focused on song structure and form, inspired by band mastermind Anthony Gonzalez ‚being a teenager in the 80’s‘.  ‚Shoegaze‘ is always a term I’m a little wary of (and don’t get me started on ‚post-rock‘), but it seems of all bands to attract this rather tired title, M83 are amongst the most deserving. However, they do throw off some of these shackles in this latest release. At times, it’s an ‚Indie-pop gone epic‘ record that swells and breaks with real beauty. It’s a dream album, and the journey dips and curves just like your most expansive dreams.

From the whispered vocal, warm bass and synth sounds to kick things off on ‚Intro‘ (featuring Zola Jesus) there is a building sense of anticipation. Anthony Gonzalez sings strong, his vocal drenched in delay before a kick drum pounds the track into life. There is an absolute warmth and richness of sound, similar to moments of later-day bands that have came in the wake of their efforts since 2001, such as MGMT; however, above all,  there is a sense of a happiness in the intro to this record – an 80’s alternative pop vibe that sets the mood well. An epic opening gives way to ‚Midnight City‘, the first single taken from this double-LP. Again, the high-synth intro sounds extremely similar to MGMT’s track ‚Time To Pretend‘ (perhaps accidental, but then: inspiration takes inspiration from inspiration, right?) It gleams with 80’s indie-pop sensibilities, and it’s a good choice of single to lead the record. Hazy vocals layer it, without really taking off, though the production is superb and well-mixed. If the synth hook (played from beginning to end with no break) doesn’t irritate after more listens, I will be surprised – thought he saxophone-sound at the end brings a smile. Clearly they’re not frightened of a good saxophone outro, and anything that references Hall and Oates can never be a bad thing.

The record continues to swell with epic sounds and joyful moments; it’s difficult to criticize indie-pop party sounds, and this record is full of them. There are tracks that swell and hint at beauty (‚Where The Boats Go‘ supplies some comedown; ‚Wait‘ also cascades with strings in the midsection to support gentle acoustic guitar, which works extremely well in the middle of the first LP), but it’s when they are louder and more hook-driven that it’s the most fun to hear new M83.

‚Raconte-Moi Une Histoire‘ is just a little strange, with lyrics that are… yes… a bit young. The album, as the title suggests, is apparently about ‚dreams – throughout your life‚, says Gonzalez, and this track is clearly referencing a dream he had between the ages of 3 and 7:  we even get ‚it’s fricken‘ awesome!‘; the voice sounds like a small kid talking about ‚turning into a frog‘, because you can ‚dive into waters and rivers and jump everything and everywhere‚. This gives way to a swirling bass-swell of delayed and reverbed vocals which are not distinguishable, but again help the track rise to a sweet conclusion. A train leaves, and from here the album returns to the synth-hook driven pop of the outset, before again calming down to a dream-like closure.

LP 2 kicks off without really any difference – a groundswell of shiny pop. A real highlight is in the track ‚Ok Pal‘ (a familiar term for a Glaswegian like me); this second part of the double album takes the same format of the first, yet throws it even further into the 80’s. Vocals shimmer, the bass is fast, the kick drum is pounding, and the hooks are again relentless; a lot of tracks are similar to the ‚Midnight City‘ single, but even better. The breakdown on ‚Ok Pal‘, with vocalist/keyboardist Morgan Kibby ’s whispering lyrics circling the track before Loïc Maurin’s drums pound back in, accompanied by Gonzalez punching out his vocal – is superb; it’s epic, and it’s grand. Almost at no point in the second half is there any drag (aside from ‚Splendour‘, which irritates with its meandering placement amongst other great tracks). In many ways it even outshines the first half.

Gonzalez himself says: “[‚Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming‚]It’s mainly about dreams, how every one is different; how you dream differently when you’re a kid, a teenager, or an adult. I’m really proud of it. If you’re doing a very long album, all the songs need to be different and I think I’ve done that with this one“. While not every song is entirely different, this double-album is certainly a grand achievement and comes highly recommended. This is a layered, fun record to explore and live with – you will surely be rewarded with time and repeated listens. Perhaps it will even help me remember my dreams…

Check out the fantastic video for single ‚Midnight City‘ below.

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