Monday, April 14, 2008

saturdays=youth by m83

Gorgeous neon angst for teenage stargazers circa 1988.

Review by guest hipster: PWC

M83’s newest album of all-original material, Saturdays = Youth, features over an hour of 80s synthesizers, trademark vocals comprised of cryptic whispers, thundering epic drums and fantastically woozy guitars layered in high Kevin Shields style. Painting in neon colors a portrait of being a teenager in the late 80s, the album feels like the forgotten soundtrack to a long lost John Hughes film filled with high school angst, dizzying late night parties, secret crushes on the goth girl, and possibly an alien visitation.

M83’s previous effort, Before the Dawn Heals Us, holds a special spot in my heart, evoking as it does a kind of teenage apocalyptic romanticism – the sense that high school will never end, that the angst and ennui of the high school hipster is the fundamental state of man (and, indeed, for many it is), that no one will ever understand, and that I will probably die in a midnight car crash in a neon metropolis, and possibly find out that I am a robot as well. Saturdays = Youth comprises a suitable sequel, aiming at a more traditional “pop song” based approach to the majority of the songs here, most of which feature vocals and overt choruses (in contrast to the giddy, crushing shoegaze of tracks like “*” from Before the Dawn Heals Us).

The opening track is a suitably lush, widescreen ambient piece, dreamy and luscious. ”Kim & Jessie” is sweet and lush perfect pop, with suitably huge drums and a classic M83 catchy-yet-ominous chorus, “Somebody lurks in the shadows, yeah, yeah, yeah”. “Couleurs”, the first single released from the album, is a lush, swirling, driving electro workout in hot pink leg warmers. “Graveyard Girl” features sweet vocals, 1987 drums, and some pretty over-the-top lyrics. The album is less poppy towards the latter half, and comprises trademark M83 towers of sound, breathy vocals, giddy synths and mighty drums, all swirling and swimming in a sea of reverb and undulating walls of sound. Wait a second - “undulating walls of sound”? Who writes stuff like that?

It’s a good record to put a sleeveless hoodie on to and bike around a starry night to, celebrating the fading grandeur of God-given youth and vitality, eyes sparkling beneath a mid-summer moon. And that is my kind of record.

(illustration M83: Pip Craighead)

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