There’s a sense of youth that permeates M83s forthcoming album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Stemming from each song seems to be not just a yearning for the glory days of one’s youth, but an actual recapturing of those days and moments. Anthony Gonzalez and his bandmates were able to capture that sentiment in the form of an expansive exploratory double album which soars and delights. And despite the times when the songs sound like third-rate Phil Collins knockoffs (which somehow isn’t as bad as it sounds), the album can only be properly described as an epic-indie-power-pop-soundscape, without the annoying ironic, emo, or sad-bastard tendencies that today’s state of indie rock normally falls under.
In my first ever blog post, I described the Smashing Pumpkins sound as “soaring.” M83 sounds nothing like Smashing Pumpkins, but they do have a few things in common with them. Firstly, both bands write tunes that seem to soar. Secondly, M83’s Anthony Gonzalez listed the Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness as inspiration for his epic double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. To even attempt a double LP in an age where the concept of an album has been lost to most seems silly. But Gonzalez’s youthful exuberance and idealism is what allows him to both attempt and succeed.
The album opens with “Intro” featuring the beloved (at least in the indie world) Zola Jesus.
We didn’t need a story. We didn’t need a real world. We just had to keep walking and we became the stories. We became the places. We were the lights and the deserts and the far away worlds. We were you before you even existed.
There’s a beautiful innocence that enables one to talk like this, and it’s the glory of youth, unencumbered by doubt, cynicism, or shattered dreams.
The album continues with “Midnight City,” a indie kid’s dream, complete with tinkered falsettos made to sound like synths, a danceable beat, and that over-processed electric drum sound. This song is, to the indie rock movement, what Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” was to the late 90s alternative pop movement – it prefectly encapsulates all of the things that make the genre fun and the songs catchy, and packs all of that into a short four-minute punch. Also, there’s a horn section at the end – very Bruce/Calrence Clemons. This seems to be a new trend in indie music.
From there, the album seems to fall into trends. We have the Phil Collins knockoffs (“Reunion,” “Claudia Lewis,” and “OK Pal”) which somehow manage to sound much more exciting than Phil Collins ever did. We have the shoegaze inspired walls of beautiful noise, most of which are condensed into shorter (mostly) instrumental tracks (“Where The Boats Go,” “This Bright Flash,” and “Another Wave From You”). These trends don’t make the album predictable or boring, however. They’re the themes that hold the album together, and that make this double LP sound like a cohesive unit.
“Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” (which translates to tell me a story, if you don’t speak French) is one of those songs that makes me smile no matter what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. A slowly building rocker(?) featuring a child telling a story about a frog; a beautifully innocent story that only a child can truly tell:
Blue becomes red, and red becomes blue, and your mommy suddenly becomes your daddy, and the world looks like a giant cupcake.
Either someone took some weird shrooms, or one of the bandmembers has a adorably creative niece. Tugs at the childhood memories of the bliss of being totally overwhelmed by laughter, and the innocence of that time.
“When Will You Come Home?” and “Soon, My Friend” seem to go together. The former is an instrumental that builds eerily, and reeks of uncertainty and a lack of clarity. The music perfectly captures the anxiety of doubt and fear of the unknown. “Soon, My Friend” (which, like the album title, uses a comma) answers those eerie fears, opening with static which gives way to a angelic fingerpicked riff, the song slowly builds on itself reassuringly. The music wraps around the listeners ear like a warm blanket on a chilly Sunday morning, ensuring the worries listener that I’ll be yours someday. Those two tracks, which end the first LP, segue beautifully into the first two songs on LP2, “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea” and “New Map.”
The rest of the album fits like a glove, as Gonzalez knows exactly when we need to be pumped up, slowed down, or overwhelmed by sound. This intuition, coupled with the musical themes that run through the album, is what not only makes this double LP work, but does so fantastically.
It takes a true believer to put out an indie-pop double album. The genre is overwhelmed by ironic hipsters who are so unsure of themselves, their emotions, and their music that they no longer know whether or not to take themselves seriously anymore. This second guessing is noticeably not present on this album. Gonzalez has aspired to put out an album that only someone with his youthful aspirations could shoot for. Only a musician untainted by cynicism and self-consciousness would even attempt what Gonzalez achieved with Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming: a double indie album of epic proportions that strives for and achieves giving the listener a nostalgic taste of the innocence of youth, idealism, and beauty.
M83 – Raconte Moi Une Histoire [audio https://troubledsoulsunite.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/1-06-raconte-moi-une-histoire.mp3]