Review Summary: Strictly speaking Fromageau and Gonzalez manage to make a good electronic record, but the lack of balance, overuse of samples, and general genre indications destroy that.
Nicolas Fromageau and Anthony Gonzalez decided they wanted to make electronic music. So these two Frenchmen partnered up to create what is known presently as M83. Although ‘electronic music’ is a quite broad term, M83 borrow elements from My Bloody Valentine, but really tone it down a notch. Their debut wildly titled M83
is neither ambitious or dreadful. The debut strictly adds electronic rhythms given by consistent synth textures and basic percussion repetitiveness (although the latter may seem terrible it isn’t at all).
As I said before, M83 borrow from previous artists to create their own sound. It is obvious that there are scattered moments of lush, yet simplistic guitar sections that enhance the variety of some songs, clearly being presented in “Night”. There is a hint of progression in some of these songs that is signaled by electronic sequences that are short and dissident within the music, accumulating energy while adding more dramatics.
The atmospheres are triumphant, despite not being overly complicated. The problems start to flesh out on M83
almost immediately. The non-existent vocals throughout the debut are replaced (if there ever were any intention) by faltering samples. Easily understated is the lack of confidence by these two for pursing vocals on some of these tracks. Trying to offset this problem by introducing a distorted, sometimes foreign monologue within the album, which to be fair is a lame excuse and only enhances the void that is ever-present within the album.
It may be the main detriment of the band to incorporate some of their shoegaze elements within most of these tracks that screams for something more. Although the shoegaze style is pulled back quite a bit and isn’t as conventional as one would begin to perceive. They still follow the general “formula” while sheathing their vocal work (samples in this case) with loud instrumentation. This type of problem shows the lack of confidence that the duo have. The atmospheres are gorgeous and anthem-like exuberance, but the direction is lacking substantially.
It seems to be the one major query on this album, why are the samples used so terribly? Each sample that is thrust in M83
are generally underwhelming, but there are some rare instances where they are accurately placed like in “Facing That”; where as previously the music grew stagnant during those samples, yet “Facing That” evolves from the emotion given within the track. The majority of M83
hangs on these samples, sometimes involving a choppy repetitiveness as seen in “She Stands Up”, which isn’t exactly pleasing and irritating to say the least. Thankfully though M83 decide to ramp up the sound and sheath some of these samples into obscurity.
The closer really typifies what M83 are headed towards after their first record. The lullaby-like entry expands into a vast and slow approach composition that lasts 18 minutes (really only 13). 18 minutes (13) of great, uplifting, and as expansive as any song will get on M83’s debut. They enter with the previous elements within their debut, but silently drifting into ambient material that is both pleasant and worthwhile.
The overall indication and feel of this album may make you feel betrayed. For one the atmospheres themselves scream some type of underpinning for vocal work, but are never given that true intention. Providing beautiful moods in every way, yet falling on their faces with the lack of direction and balance. M83’s debut sends a clear message, but in the wrong ways. The tracks that resonate aren’t exactly established correctly and the ones that are just tread a bit too long for everyone’s tastes. If there’s one thing we can take away from M83’s first album then it is that they have a knack for creating entrenched atmospheres that will hold a foundation for their future work as electronica artists.