There is something to be said about a musical artist – or band, or project, or brainchild, for that matter – that releases a multiple-disc set of new music at a time. In a way, they are asking that we give them our attention and a reasonable amount of a commitment. Right? (Hopefully you are nodding in agreement.) It would be inappropriate to stand by and wait for the artist’s first single/EP in a case like this, since – in my humble opinion – they have created this path of a journey. Maybe even more so than a typical single-disc album ever would.
I have been on something of a kick lately for things that require my full attention and the complete absence of anything that could or would distract me from the task at hand. One of these things is listening to the new M83 two-disc set, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming in one sitting at a time.
In a past Pitchfork interview, M83’s Anthony Gonzales said his new album would be “very, very epic” and we all know how that poor, unfortunate word has been slung around these days. Everything from heart-stopping food to the name of a cruise ship. It seems like most times everything is “epic,” even if it’s really not. But after listening to Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, I am thinking of a different kind of epic that has been used to describe music coming out of the 80s. You know what I am talking about – even if you never used that word to describe it yourself. This kind of epic was always a much larger than life sound, very grand and even proud in its extended synth drum-pad rolls. Several times in the course of the album I couldn’t help but recall Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Yes and a little Duran Duran. But that’s just me.
In the past, specifically with Saturdays = Youth, M83 has dropped us into the forest in search of something that touched our souls with its shoegazing design. The layers of sounds drowned out the real world and dared us to come out unchanged. With S=Y, I took that challenge and it did what I expect most of my favorite music to do: influence me, evoke emotions, and yes change me even a little. Does M83 accomplish this with Hurry Up? I’m not sure yet. I’ve listened to the album five times in three days already (usually the fifth is the telling one for me, but I might need another this time). Perhaps there is something of a different attempt here, whether Mr. Gonzales is aware of it or not. The depth of this album is not as laser-focused as the last when it comes to that. You have to trust in the possible fact that perhaps this is not its intention.
There are enough elements here that stand out in an amazing way: we still hear the breathy vocals scattered throughout as in S=Y‘s “Graveyard Girl“; stunning hooks like the one in “Midnight City” (still unsure if the sax was needed at the end); and the sheer beauty of “Wait,” which might be the most beautiful song you are listening to right now. On the other hand, there’s “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” that needs a little time to grow on me, with its little voice talking about some trippy frog over a Lemon-Jelly inspired track. More solid tracks follow on disc 2 with “New Map” (even with wind instrument in tow,) and “OK Pal”… I could go on, but the idea is that there is more variety in this overall dream. Maybe that’s what Gonzales meant when he imagined this was going to be “very, very epic.” And that’s fine with me. It’s just a matter of when I am ready to take that journey.
So with Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, I am seeing the landscape M83 has painted for more than the forest and its trees as we were immersed in with Saturdays = Youth. The title says it perfectly. Every time I put on the album, it’s like I am preparing to dream and the Intro, complete with another of my favorites, Zola Jesus, delivers you to its fringe. The plunge, as you can imagine, is up to you.
PS – Good news for those who want to listen to “Midnight City” before you commit to the album, there is a free download here!
PPS – The video for Kim & Jesse from Saturdays = Youth: