Review Summary: M83's fifth album provides a warm welcome back to the past of the 80's. Hair volumizer not included.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a John Hughes 80’s teen movie? Well the French shoegazing single man band of Anthony Gonzalez, offers a glimpse into that world with his fifth studio album, Saturdays=Youth
under the name M83. 80’s revival is nothing new to the music scene in recent years, its array of synthesizer pop makes for an unbelievably catchy listen, and a great blast to the past, but Saturdays=Youth
takes this synth dream-pop to its limits with an hour worth of material, all of which was written by Gonzalez himself. The album’s cover itself just spews 80’s all over with the multiple fashions of the past and not so subtle Molly Ringwald lookalike. At first glance this act seems like a sham, but after one listen the true beauty of what Gonzalez can create is breathtaking.
The album opens with, “You, Appearing,” which begins with a dark and crawling piano with a loud, grand feel to it nonetheless. This continues for a minute and a half before high pitched, but equally dark vocals come in, not at all disrupting the flow of the song. The lyrics are simply, “It's your face/Where are we?/Save me,” repeated the remaining two minutes of the song which provides more of an intro to the real taste of M83’s influence on this album, “Kim & Jessie,” a song that feels like it was pulled straight out of the timeline. “Kim & Jessie” begins with a much more uplifting drums pattern and excessively happy synthesizer rhythm that places the listener into a tidal wave of emotion with the dramatic transition from the previously depressed song, to this. Despite awkward transitioning, “Kim & Jessie” stands clearly superior to “You, Appearing,” but both fall in comparison to what lies in the albums midsection.
“Graveyard Girl” for instance takes the same idea of “Kim & Jessie” with the uplifting drums and synthesizer, but does it better. The song itself provides a love story of a girl and, ironically, the 80’s. “Dark rags and red stars/She's the dirty witch of her high school/She worships Satan like a father/But dreams of a sister like Molly Ringwald,” the lyrics clearly lay the groundwork of the songs purpose as Gonzalez does not attempt to hide his 80’s message in anyway. The main body of the album continues in a trend of excellent songs, particularly Colours
and We Own The Sky
is a pure instrumental track of raging synthesizers and slow dance-like beats. The song being eight minutes long, passes much to quick because with each minute the song adds something new to the mix, making a deathly beautiful soundscape. On the other side of that, “We Own The Sky” is one of the most wordy songs on the album featuring the most lyrics. Naturally that wonderful synthesizer makes its return, and the song flows elegantly but loud, as it has multiple layers sounds all of which somewhat mask the vocals, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the song itself is one of the best and memorable on the album.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not go as well as the midsection, songs like “Highway of Endless Dreams” and “Too Late” are just downright boring. The latter of which feels like an extremely long and mediocre piano solo that lasts for five never-ending minutes. If Saturdays really do equal youth than these two tracks better hurry the *** up because I am not going to stay youthful forever. Thankfully, “Dark Moves of Love,” a sometimes-dreamy/sometimes-angry ballad, which is constantly switching from synthesizer to roaring guitar, makes up for the previous slip up in album flow. The albums closing track though, is just downright ridiculous, it is 11:11 minutes long (obviously intentional), as all eleven of those minutes are spent holding a single key. The purpose of this? Completely a mystery, but being the end of the album skipping this track will leave you with no guilt. The album has already provided a lovely sound with a devastating emotional toll that would make any 80’s movie soundtrack spectacular.
I hope you enjoy your film, your film that is life. Soundtrack included here.