james debate
james debate

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Genre Dream pop, Electronica
Label Mute
Producers Justin Meldal-Johnsen
Release Date October 18th
m83 hurry up we're dreaming review ephemeric

Even though Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is the 6th studio album of Anthony Gonzalez's M83, chances are you haven't heard of them before. That may all be about to change.

Gonzalez has spent three years pouring over every detail in this latest album, and it shows. Hurry Up, We're Dreaming stretches out over 2 discs and 22 tracks, a rarity for music these days, and yet each song is so meticulously crafted that every synth note, every chime, every buzz feels as though it has been placed with intent and fastidious care. Even during the album's more adventurous, abstract segments there is method and purpose and the end result is that the album sounds exactly as described on the cover, like some ephemeral, velvety dream.

I do not say this merely with regards to how the music sounds, although "dreamlike" would be an apt description for the ethereal, lush quality of this music, but more to its ability to be emotionally evocative. In equal parts uplifting and deflating, this is an album that can be wistful and reminiscent, thought provoking and introspective. In this regard the album feels very much like a dream.

The easy comparison that will no doubt be a feature of every review is one with 80s music, and indeed much of the album will evoke a distinct John Hughes aesthetic, but to characterise the album as simply an 80s revival would do a disservice to the great variation throughout.

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming runs the full gamut from anthemic pop-heavy tracks like Midnight City and Ok Pal, harkening back to the likes of Simple Plan and OMD, to the more stripped down hushed harmonies of Wait and Splendor.

Throw in a few eclectic tracks like Raconte-Moi Histoire, more a throwback to pre-80s psychedelia, and even full blown orchestrated songs like My Tears Are Becoming a Sea and you have some idea of the kind of range we have here.

It is impressive then that the music is so consistent; one gorgeously crafted melody after another and a good balance of instrumental and vocal elements. Each and every song merits a listen, and at its best moments this is an album that absolutely sparkles. If I have one qualm with the music itself it would be that the vocal style is quite the departure from M83's usual subdued yet quietly affecting lull, with Gonzalez taking on the reins himself and Morgan Kibby absent entirely. It almost sounds more in the vein of Kings of Leon or Arcade Fire; that's not to say that it doesn't work, it's just different. Some people may like it, others won't.

The bigger issue is that there seems to be no real structure to the album as a whole, no logical thread running through the length of either of the two discs, let alone the whole package. If one were to listen to the album on shuffle, I doubt they would notice a difference in the experience compared to progressing from start to finish. Hurry Up, We're Dreaming ultimately feels more like a collection of pretty sounds than a cohesive whole, although indeed one could say that this simply adds to the overall dizzying dream-like quality of the album, for better or for worse.

But despite this, Hurry Up We're Dreaming is an album that is hard to resist. Few other albums have captured the dream-like state to such a degree and portrayed it with such elegance and beauty. The attention to detail belies the talent of a true perfectionist and produces a record that may lack the clear narrative to which we are accustomed, but is undoubtedly the embodiment of this man's vision.

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is M83's most ambitious album to date, and certainly their most impressive. This is a contender for album of the year, it's time to start taking notice.

Must Listen

Midnight City

Steve McQueen


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