When times were simpler, the official album charts and MTV told you what was hot. But now, with the ability to share music within seconds, it's difficult to tell what's popular from day to day. So, when a band like M83 releases a new album, it may seem like a big deal to me, but I have to all but assume that it isn't the case for the rest of the world. There's no surprise that their album released just last week, Saturdays = Youth, might have slipped through the top 40s chart; but it is still surprising to me to see that M83 is currently one of the most searched and blogged bands on Hype Machine.
M83's new album has soundtrack written all over it. The title itself puts it in the category of innocence, rites of passage, intense nostalgia, and angst. Anyone even close to the age of M83's Anthony Gonzalez (26) can note the obvious references throughout the album. Even the cover, which depicts several awkward teens with an interesting, to say the least, choice of fashion, is like an Eye Spy book for pop cultural influences: I spy Donnie Darko, I spy the Brat Pack! Musically, each song seems like a departure from the typical M83 sound, which has been known to be much rawer and more experimental. Ewan Pearson's helping hand clearly gives the tracks a more produced, ready-for-America feel. The album as a whole feels like a soundtrack, and not necessarily one that is produced by one band, but a compilation of bands, from Frou Frou on "You, Appearing," to New Order (think "Age of Consent") on "Graveyard Girl," to Depeche Mode on "Couleurs," to Journey on "Skin of the Night." Some songs even set the visual stage, as in "Highway of Endless Dreams," which starts, "7 a.m., dusty road, I'm gonna drive until it burns my bones." The song--a long build up that ends before it releases--then proceeds to suit quite well an early morning drive on a desert highway. But despite the obvious influences, every note has that special M83 touch that makes you feel as though you are drifting in a barred spiral galaxy.
M83 - Couleurs
After listening to the album nearly incessantly over the past week, I still am unsure whether to dub this album as timeless or a soon-to-be guilty pleasure. The lyrics are campy, though admittedly deliberatly so, and the chord progressions are at times sugary sweet. Whereas M83 was once a band that was not for everyone, now they are open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 35. But for now, unlike the pop culture that Saturdays = Youth refers to, these songs are uniquely ours.
I recommend that you do buy the album! For some less blogged about songs, check out these recent gems as well:
M83 - Graveyard Girl (Yuksek remix)
Midnight Juggernauts - Shadows (M83 remix)