Epic, epic, epic… how many times have you read a review that starts with, ends with, and repeats this word throughout? This reviewer is guessing more than just the once… And, often, the music it is coupled with does not provide the listener with ample justification of the adjective’s perpetual overuse.
It’s winter of 2010, and Anthony Gonzalez has just announced that his next album would be just that: ‘epic’, but given the diversity between (and even within his previous records), and the duration of his career, the use of that word left a bit too much to the imagination; with fans and critics left wondering whether this would just be another album.
Fast-forward to October 2011 and this reviewer finds that, for once, ‘epic’ is an understatement. After ten years in the industry, and his thirtieth birthday, it would seem that 2011’s ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’ is something of a coming of age story for Gonzalez – a journey about awakening, craving, and conquering.
Unlike quite a few double-albums this reviewer can (but won’t) name, ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ doesn’t drag on and, for the most part, it isn’t padded-out with filler songs that don’t deserve the megabytes they take up on that shiny, plastic disc.
Of course, there are exceptions and ‘Train to Pluton’ is exactly that, the track (which stands at just over a minute) nervously recalls Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque images and then shrinks back from whence it came; without explaining why… Despite this, the album constitutes an easily digestible 74 minutes, and this reviewer would argue that ‘Hurry Up’ is the easiest M83 album to listen to in one sitting; and the most commercially viable.
The album’s first release is the instantly likeable ‘Midnight City’, which is a carefully calculated, luscious blend of ambient pop and progressive textures that make for a song with just the right amount of 80s nostalgia – the director of ‘Drive’ (2011) really missed a trick here.
Whilst the album can, in some senses, be said to be a continuation of the journey embarked upon by M83’s last record ‘Saturdays=Youth’, ‘Midnight City’ is the song that marks Gonzalez’s departure from all previous material and a further awakening in himself. With earlier records, Gonzalez either hired help when it came to adding vocals to his tracks, or teased listeners with a fleeting glimpse of his own timorous vocals.
Now, and perhaps due to having recently toured with Depeche Mode, Gonzalez has suddenly found the balls to broaden and strengthen his existing vocal boundaries and experiment, subsequently revealing another depth to his talents. The album is a showcase for everything from ‘Midnight City’s’ spectral and breathy whisper, to ‘Reunion’s’ howling yet harmonious vocals.
In interviews, Gonzalez has repeatedly stressed the influence of the Smashing Pumpkins ‘Mellon Collie’ and the ‘Infinite Sadness’. Also a double album, ‘Mellon Collie’ has one very poignant thing in common with M83‘s ‘Hurry Up’: the irrationality and transitory nature of youthful emotions.
The seemingly accidental juxtaposition of the record’s most endearing ballad-style track ‘Wait’ with ‘Raconte-Moi Une Histoire’ (a song about a frog) recall the strangeness of hearing The Smashing Pumpkin’s powerfully grungy yet emotionally charged ‘Bodies’ on the same CD as the monotonously synthesised ‘We Only Come Out at Night’.
Anthony Gonzalez described ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ as “a reflection of my 30 years of being a human being […] a compilation of all my previous music together […] a retrospective of myself”, but it is much more than a simple solipsistic affair. The opacity of his lyrics, and the perpetually changing style of music that this record contains, serve to effectively capitulate the fraught memories each of us has of our own youth, and beyond.
HBF Rating 9/10
Written by Jessica McDermott