M-83 Ramps Up the Volume and Finesse

True to the band’s name, M-83’s sixth and double album Hurry Up We’re Dreaming transports you into a vast far-off galaxy and make you reluctant to return. Luckily, you don’t have to. Twenty-two tracks fill a solid hour of celestial stargazing amid blurred vocals and electronic emotion. The continuous synthetic vibes can be soothing or repetitive depending on your mood. Each track blends into the next providing a reserved but stimulating background for philosophizing, reading, sleeping, or exploring alternative states of consciousness. The lyrics and the melodies travel in circles with repeated phrases and tunes further wrapping you into the M-83 universe.

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This time around Anothony Gonzalez describes his move to Los Angeles after living in France for most of his life. Unlike previous endeavors, much of the album is a collaboration with many other artists including Zola Jesus’ vocalist Nika Roza Danilova. The album hums with the excitement and energy from this newness and experimentation.

Many songs like go without lyrics and many of those that are included are unintelligible in the name of shoegaze rock. But if you take the time to look up the lyrics, you will find a text that echoes the music it accompanies. The tracks come across as simultaneously wistful, serene, and expectant, trying to capture the entire range of human emotion. The songs tell stories of love, wonder, and the great experience of being human in a fleeting world. In the pop-infused “Steve McQueen,” Gonzalez sings, “The world is a goldmine/That will melt tomorrow.”

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Some of the best tracks are those that forego lyrics like “Where the Boats Go” and “When Will You Come Home.” These carry a meaningful weight despite the lack of human voice. They are carried instead by a wide range of instruments from saxophone to piano and acoustic guitar. Emotion is belied by the soaring strings and slap bass. Gonzalez stated that the album is “mainly about dreams, how every one is different, how you dream differently when you’re a kid, a teenager, or an adult.”

For the most part the album lives up to Gonzalez’ vision, effectively capturing an ambitious spectrum of emotion. The sheer number and variety of tracks with each flowing into, but at the same time very distinct, from the next. Longer songs of intense drums and upbeat tempo are coupled with their antitheses of short, sweeping and slow string interludes. The simple ballad structure of many of the songs is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Queen. However, M-83 steps into a new musical dimension by laying on the synth and minimizing vocals.

The double disks are supposed to compliment each other as “brother and sister” and in each, Gonzalez slowly builds anticipation with his trance-like style. The first disk is more reserved with subdued energy and the second acts as climax and fallout. In this way, the two work together to provide an arc of emotion that rises to a peak and then subsides with the closing outro. Although the album may be a little self-indulgent and long winded, it is an auditory space adventure that you won’t forget.