M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011)


[ALBUM REVIEW]
[Album: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming]
[Label: Mute US / 2011]
[Rating: 8.4]

The ticking of a clock, the tapping of a shoe, the dialogue of irrelevant conversations slowly blurring into a collective murmur. Staring into nothing, but thinking about everything. It’s a feeling of passive surrender. A feeling of equilibrium. And, more than ever before, it’s a feeling that M83 inspires on “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”.

Some like to label it shoegaze, others dreampop – whatever you want to call it, it’s good.

With 22 songs running 74 minutes, this thing is big (like Wayne explains). Which seems fitting considering its title.

To try and compare this album with past efforts by M83 would be pointless. It holds the grandeur, the scope and the lyrical absurdities of adolescent delusion we’ve come to expect – but never has it been done with such depth. Every song is filled with innumerable intricacies that work to immerse you within each moment. Think Sigur Ros’ “Festival” or Phoenix’s “Love Like a Sunset”. Again, it’s big.

“Intro” sets the bar for things to come. Pulsing synths, weightless pads, and contrasting declarations from Zola Jesus and Anthony Gonzalez. Drums become fireworks, ears become sponges. Welcome to “Hurry Up, Were Dreaming”.

If there’s one major thing to note from “Intro”, it’s that Gonzalez’s vocals have taken a front seat. Past presence of his voice was characterized by low, tender whispers. Now, we often hear Gonzalez with a sense of purpose, which warrants his theatrics on ballads like “Wait” and “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea” – songs that draw resemblance to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “Different Names for the Same Thing”.

It’s songs like these that make this album special. They’re not the ones you’re first drawn to; instead, they’re the ones you rediscover 6 months later. The ones where you stumble across a new riff or a new lyric. The ones that make you fall in love with this album all over again.

What keeps you coming back, however, are the singles. That constant craving for indie pop bliss, left on your tongue by bands like Phoenix and Passion Pit, is satisfied with songs like “Midnight City” and “Reunion”. They’re catchy, upbeat, and they’re the crux of the album. When the sax solo of “Midnight City” breaks in, M83 has never sounded so full.

Holding it all together are the interstitial tracks like “Where the Boats Go”, “Another Wave From You”, and “Fountains”. Being a double album, “Hurry Up” was bound to have fluff. Fluff that many would argue is simply wasted time. But this album is about being drawn in. We interpret just as much here from what is not being said. The lack of pop structure, the use of ambiance, and the fluidity of transition is what brings you to a state of stasis. It’s these songs that envelop you within the world of “Hurry Up.”

It’s not all so serious though. There is a song about a magic frog. “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” follows the narrative of a young girl and a “very special frog”. More than anything, it highlights Gonzalez’s obsession with youth. Listen, and try not smiling.

Admittedly, some songs quickly gain “skip” status. “Claudia Lewis” and “OK Pal” are pretty vintage 80’s pop, and the novelty fades fast. With 22 songs, there’s bound to be a few that don’t get your blood flowing.

That being said, it’s easy to pick and choose your favorites after a full listen through, which says something about the versatility of “Hurry Up” as a whole. Put it on shuffle and nothing seems out of place. Put “Midnight City” on a playlist, and constantly be reminded of how special it is. The opaque nature of the album allows for this.

And so, it’s hard not to be inspired by M83’s enthusiasm. There’s a reason for the interplay between the pop fueled singles and the idiosyncratic filler: Gonzalez wants us to focus on how the beauty of boundless imaginings are defined by the minute details of our lives. I think that’s really important. For an album that’s centered around dreams, Gonzalez invites interpretation. Take what you want. Or just listen to the song about the frog.

Dave Hayes
For more, visit my blog: www.thesleepingsun.wordpress.com

M83 – Intro (ft Zola Jesus):

M83 – Midnight City:

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