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Reviews

M83
Hurry Up We're Dreaming Rich Hughes , November 7th, 2011 10:49

M83's Hurry Up We're Dreaming soundtracks an escape from the current gloom, a means of avoiding the endless barrage of headlines about nations defaulting on their debts and incomprehensible economic figures, the UK in the grips of a Conservative government who seem just as ruthless and cold as they were in the 80s, and a disenfranchised youth who have little hope of bettering their lives.

Sometimes praising escapist music can feel like a head-in-the-sand refusal to engage with the bleak realities around us. Yet surely we need a certain level of optimism to help us go about our lives, to be carried beyond the confines of our near surroundings. Hurry Up We're Dreaming is that vehicle of escape.

Despite the fact that Hurry Up is a double album, there's never a moment when you think something could be cut. Similarly, despite Anthony Gonzalez' retro aesthetic (evident both musically and in his artwork through his career) never feels overdone. There's a hefty slab of 80's pop-rock on offer here, but it doesn't sound tired or forced.

It's often a cliché for an artist to say that their work is the soundtrack to a film inside their own head, but it's tempting to let Gonzalez off: it's his movie-styled approach that gives Hurry Up a narrative. Indeed, at times it feels like a wander through the sum of everything Gonzalez has done before, and could easily be served up as some kind of retrospective. Yet the key success of Hurry Up is that his canvas has exponentially increased in size.

Gone is the darkness and the nervousness that hung around the previous albums, here Gonzalez (now confident in his own voice to use it almost continuously) is full of optimism: it is hope that drives this album. Snatches of movie-styled dialogue augment the storytelling, as on 'OK Pal' where the whispered female voice says "Stay calm, hold me tight" as you're spirited away in synths that soar and dive.

With an atmosphere that's all Ridley Scott near-future, the music touches on Vangelis, Echo and the Bunnymen, early U2 and Peter Gabriel, combining to form a rich, emotive mix, the soundtrack to a vision somewhere in Gonzalez' cranium. While it might be lumped in as nu-gaze, screengaze, whatever, the work of M83 still continues to create its one little weather system, a cumulus cloud of electronics and guitar drifting pleasantly across the musical horizon. There's no harm in dreaming.

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