Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 5/29/08
The French group M83 consisting of Anthony Gonzalez and former member Nicolas Fromageau, who left the band in 2003 after a tour, are one of electronic music's most beloved and acclaimed outfits. After 2003's Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts, the group eventually became Gonzalez's own project with various musicians where in 2005, the group's third album Before the Dawn Heals Us became the outfit's breakthrough. Thanks to singles like Don't Save Us From The Flames and Teen Angst being used in commercials and film trailers, M83 was exposed to a big audience raising their cult status. Known for their blend of melodic synth-pop meshed with dreamy, shoegaze-inspired textures, M83 also delved into ambient music where in 2007, the outfit released Digital Shades Vol. 1. A year later, Gonzalez along with his brother Yann returned with their fifth full-length release Saturdays=Youth.
Produced by Ken Thomas and Ewan Pearson, Saturdays=Youth is an album that explores M83's dream-like electronic sound. Stripping away the noisy, shoegaze sound of previous albums, the album is a more accessible record focusing on song structures and melodies harkening to the sounds of early 80s synth pop as well as exploring elements of ambient music. Featuring contributions from vocalist Morgan Kibby of the Romanovs, Saturdays=Youth is a brilliant, hypnotic album from Anthony Gonzalez and company.
The album opener You Appearing arrives with a smooth, melodic piano track with swirls of synthesizers as Anthony Gonzalez sings in a falsetto vocal style for this moody yet haunting ballad that features ominous yet powerful synthesizer accompaniment. The more upbeat Kim & Jesse with thumping beats, washy guitars, and bouncy, melodic synthesizer as Gonzalez sings the song that is reminiscent of 80s synth-pop as he's joined by Morgan Kibby. With its beats and soft yet dreamy synthesizers, it's a wonderful mix of 80s electro-pop and dream-pop. Skin Of The Night is an ominous track with slow yet dissonant piano melodies and harrowing synthesizers as sputtering electronic beats emerge. With Morgan Kibby singing, she brings her soft, dream-like vocals to this great song filled with haunting, dark lyrics as her high-pitch vocals is a highlight in this brilliant song.
The album's second and current single Graveyard Girl is an upbeat number with fast-hitting drums and washy, dream-like guitars that is led by Anthony Gonzalez as he sings the song with its dreamy, moody lyrics. With his cool vocals, it's a fantastic single with swooning synthesizers, an upbeat rhythm, and a dreamy tone that defines the M83 sound. The first single Couleurs is an eerie, synthesizer-laden track with ominous arrangements and eerie melodies that becomes more upbeat with its rhythms and another, melodic synthesizer accompaniment. With a guitar track in the background, the track includes numerous percussions and beats playing in the background as it intensifies throughout its eight-and-a-half minute running time with soft vocals playing in the coda.
Up! is a bouncy, synthesizer-driven track with Morgan Kibby's lovely, hypnotic high-pitch vocals leading the way. With its ode to moody, 80s synth-pop, it's a wonderful, smooth mid-tempo track that includes a great, bouncy intro that returns for its bridge as it shows the complex arrangements that Anthony Gonzalez has created. We Own The Sky is a heavy, synthesizer-driven track with droning synthesizers leading the way for this ominous yet dreamy track that features Gonzalez singing in his smooth, dream-like vocals. With Yann Gonzalez's arrangements and contribution, it's another standout track that emphasizes on the group's unique sound. Highway Of Endless Dreams is a return to the group's shoegaze-inspired sound that includes washy guitars and bouncy, dreamy synthesizers as pounding beats start to emerge for this track. With the vocals coming by Anthony Gonzalez, it comes in at the last minute as the song opened with film dialogue.
Too Late is a simple, piano-led ballad with Gonzalez's soft, dreamy vocals as he plays the piano. With a synthesizer accompanying in the background, the track maintains its smooth, dream-like ballad presentation with the piano leading the song. Dark Moves Of Love is a hypnotic,dream-like cut with smooth, shimmering synthesizer that later becomes a more rhythmic, guitar-driven track that is also more shoegaze than electronic. With its swirling guitars and pounding drums, the track features a mix of vocals by Gonzalez and Morgan Kibby as it starts to fade and segue into the next track. The album closer is the eleven-minute, ambient-instrumental piece Midnight Souls Still Remain that is led mostly by its hypnotic, dreamy synthesizer track. With a soft, synthesizer melody playing through the background, it's mostly led by its main track as it maintains its smooth, ambient vibe.
Though it's more accessible than any its previous albums with more pop melodies and also, superb, atmospheric production by Ken Thomas and Ewan Pearson. Saturdays=Youth is still an amazing, dreamy, and certainly enjoyable album from M83. Though not as brilliant as 2005's Before the Dawn Heals Us, Saturdays=Youth is still an album that shows Anthony Gonzalez growing as a songwriter and musician as he takes new risks while delving into different genres to expand M83's sound. In the end, Saturdays=Youth is a fantastic album that shows a newfound sense of maturity and growth into the unique sound that is M83.
M83 Albums: (M83) - (Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts) - (Before the Dawn Heals Us) - (Digital Shades Vol. 1) - (Hurry Up, We're Dreaming)
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