Youth is a favorite subject of French electronica act M83. Their newest album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,” takes listeners on a voyage into a hazy dream that can only be thought up by a child drifting off to sleep.
This new effort comes on the heels of 2008’s “Saturdays = Youth,” continuing its synth-heavy, 1980s-pop feel. It comes across as a more robust package both in the amount of songs – with 22 songs, it’s considered a double album – and in its overall emotional punch.
If this album could be likened to a movie, it’d have to be “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” Not only does it get the 1980s down pat, but it also manages to do something the movie does that’s very hard to replicate: Capturing both the ecstatic highs and the loneliest lows of childhood equally.
The album’s first single, “Midnight City,” was an Internet sensation when first released in July, immediately trending on Twitter. It’s a booming, repetitious dance-floor-ready package of joy that’s topped off with a delightfully retro saxophone solo.
It’s the M83 track that fans wanted after a three-year absence and it’s the exact type of sound that’s permeating popular music today. Lady Gaga used a metric ton of saxophone in her “Born This Way” album, as did Katy Perry in her hit “Last Friday Night.”
But those 1980s throwbacks fall wayward into the realm of parody. M83 keeps the quick bursts of synthesizer adrenaline, saxophones and bass lines hard-hitting and sincere.
Another standout track is “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” – French for “Tell Me a Story” – a nostalgic trip into a child’s nonsensical imagination. It consists only of a playful electronic beat and the voice of a child recounting a story about a magic frog, flinging details off the top of their head. Its quirkiness may turn some off at first, but it grows on you and brings back warm feelings of a simpler time.
Aside from the danceable highs of “Midnight City,” “Claudia Lewis” and “Steve McQueen,” the album allows itself to meander into more ambient territory.
“Wait” is an acoustic guitar ballad that feels to be the soundtrack to crying yourself to sleep, while “Soon, My Friend” has all the anguish of being trapped inside by the rain.
These low-key tracks on the album are full of emotion, but have an enchanting lullaby quality, allowing them to slip into the point of view of a child not quite ready to process their negative emotions.
All in all, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is a neon-lit storybook offering M83’s signature dance pop with a bittersweet emotional anchor. It’s ambitious in scope and is one of those albums that continue to grow with a listener over time, revealing new depths with each listen.
This is definitely not an album to miss.
The entire album is currently live-streaming online at Urban Outfitters’ online blog blog.urbanoutfitters.com. M83 will be performing at The Beacham in Orlando on Nov. 2.