M83 gets dreamy on new album
Ever since the single “Midnight City” dropped back in July, fans have been eagerly awaiting electronic band M83’s sixth album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” What began in 2001 as a modest project by French musician Anthony Gonzalez has since skyrocketed to the forefront of indie electronica. And thanks to a decade of experience, M83’s newest release doesn’t disappoint.
Dedicated listeners who have followed the band’s trajectory through the years may notice a sound that’s slightly different from past albums. This is due in part to Gonzalez’s relocation from his home country of France to Los Angeles, a choice he made prior to recording. His sixth album is an important milestone: it’s even in two parts. Gonzalez revealed in an interview that the two discs are intended to be complementary of one another. “Each track has a sibling on the other disc,” he explained in a Sept. 10 interview in The Guardian.
The album opens, appropriately, with a track titled “Intro.” A whispering voice floats over electronic tones, giving way to stronger vocals and a progressive beat. The song culminates in an uprising of choral harmonies and ends with an energy that bodes well for everything that follows.
Next is the song fans have already been playing on repeat for months: the drum-guided “Midnight City.” A definite highlight of the album, this disco-inspired tune will stay stuck in listeners’ heads long after the sharp saxophone at its end has sounded its final notes.
Among other things, the album is a study in the repurposing of musical elements from past decades. “Reunion” gives a bit of a yearning 1980s feel with the introduction of the guitar. The drumbeat never relents, and Gonzalez’s vocals soar overhead, dreamy yet insistent.
“Where Boats Go” is just one of a handful of short instrumental tracks scattered throughout the album. This particular musical snippet hints at the type of new wave feel also found in Ray Lynch’s 1984 album “Deep Breakfast.” The later song “Train to Pluton” similarly works as a transition between longer songs: it is a miniature journey that lasts just over a minute, complete with the sound of a train creaking over the tracks.
The title of the playful “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” (“Tell Me a Story”) is a nod to Gonzalez’s French roots. This imaginative track includes a bouncing electronic beat and a charming little girl narrating a fantasy tale about frogs. It’s an unexpected and genuinely heartwarming moment that really makes an impression.
The triumphant “Soon, My Friend” closes out the first half of the album, chanting a wistful “I’ll be yours someday, someday…” in beautifully layered vocals that lead effortlessly into the second disc.
Part two includes its share of notable moments as well. “My Tears are Becoming a Sea” achieves an impressive level of magnificence despite its brevity. The ending of “New Map” allows different sounds to break through, such as a flute duet and some lower reed instruments. Tracks like “Year One, One UFO” are especially effective when listening on earphones, as the static crackling travels chillingly between the listener’s ears.
“OK Pal” again recalls the power chords and electronic stylings of the 1980s, which Gonzalez updates with his own repeated vocal riff. Parts of “Splendor” travel even farther back in time, calling to mind a toned-down, choralized “Stairway to Heaven.”
Continuing the trend of the spoken vocals are songs like “Echoes of Mine,” where an older French woman meditates on her memories as they are interspersed with powerful surges of chords and drums.
Finally, “Outro” concludes the album. The distant strains of its beginning blossom into a glorious and fulfilled refrain of the intro track. Listeners are left with a soft, reflective piano ending that resonates in its simplicity.
Overall, the album relies on the tried-and-true combination of heavy percussion, electronic tones and faraway vocals, as well as the occasional guitar. The consistency makes it easy to slip into a nostalgic daydream while listening, and the varying rhythms keep it fresh enough to make 22 tracks pass quickly. As both a telling title and an inventive album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” hits it right on the nose.
Lindsey Tulloch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.