Tuesday, 21 February 2012

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


After 238 listens and 57 cups of tea, I think I'm ready to review Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. The truth is... This is a long album, but it's easy to digest. I'm surprised how anybody could review this album after one, five, ten listens. This is M83's sixth studio album and their most successful. It takes on a different sound to the previous shoegaze-esque albums. The layers have been replaced by synth lines and delirious vocals. M83 mixes synth pop with dream pop and the raw bone of electronic music. The outcome is quite spectacular and surprises the long term M83 fan such as myself. Those 'post-rock' days are now over and M83 have a mountain to climb to out-do this album.

The ambient opening on 'Intro (ft Zola Jesus)' sounds spectacular and the following synth line enters my ears with passion and light. The hard hitting vocal samples and the steady but strong drum beat enter as Zola Jesus gives a very appetising vocal sounding ethereal and gigantic as the track progresses and gains in volume and compactness. This sounds astonishing, something that you would describe 'other worldly', it belongs in a stadium audience with a ground breaking sound system and a filled with an audience of every age category. Bring your kids along, this music is friendly, but it's also very mature. The final two minutes stretches my ear drums as the bass enters and the vocal harmonies take place sitting obscured to the magnetic synth hooks on the left speaker and the twinkling hooks on the right. The tracks slowly comes to a stand still with a thunderous guitar strum, what an introduction.

Words cannot describe 'Midnight City'. You just have to hear it. The vocal riff is exquisite and recorded to perfection. The sound is so energetic yet relaxed. The following vocals sound eerie and are layered to an extent. The chorus is basically the synth line with a thunderous drum beat, it's spectacular. I don't usually parade tracks as such, but this track is one of the best from 2011. The saxophone solo at the end just adds the finishing piece. Without this solo and the track falls under the predictable category. It's those little details which create something mega, and that saxophone does just that. 

'Reunion' has a steady opening with 30 seconds of heavy dream pop guitar and hard hitting drums. The vocals enter as does the increased tempo and louder guitar work. The vocal sets the mood and the track ascends in to a genius electro-rock melody. The verse is typically slower and as the pace builds up, the vocals do the same. You can hear some great dynamics on this track, something which M83 take into serious consideration when recording. The next track 'Where The Boats Go' is a sort instrumental with heavy synthesizer bass and a small vocal segment of noise. The synths create a dense atmosphere and the synth lines twinkle as piano enters to close off the track.

The acoustic guitar filled 'Wait' is extremely melancholy and one of the highlights is the vocals. The song structure is brilliant, as is the left/right guitar sounds, but the vocals reach new heights and move the instrumental forward. The progression has been used in popular music many times before, it's a very mellow progression and allows the singer to use vocal dynamics without messy production. Then enters the sweet and Depeche Mode-esque 'Raconte-Moi Une Histoire'. This track is about a magic frog and is ready by bassist/producer Justin Meldal-Johnsens daughter. it's surreal and starts of childish but transforms in to a lovely concept and fit's the album perfectly, as does the brilliant instrumental and energetic bass work. The monotonous synth riff doesn't become boring and the more you listen, the more you understand and appreciate this track.

'Train To Pluton' sounds like Animal Collective with more reverb and better soundscapes. It's a short, reverb filled mid-point which separates the first quarter from the second. 'Claudia Lewis' then enters with another distorted vocal riff as it's base. The drum beat carrys this track forward as Anthony sings very clearly and gives his best vocal effort on the album. The track shines as it kicks in and the distorted bass rings clear as the left synths and right percussion breaks leave the listener confused on what to focus on. 'This Bright Flash' fades in and sounds very 80's. The tracks raises in volume and the drum beat kicks in. The sheer volume hits me and the shoegaze drones enter. The layers create something almost missing from the previous tracks. It's pure volume and bass focus leaves me feeling sad that this is only 2.21 in length.  'When Will You Come Home' follows with more ambiance and industrial, distorted sounds which create a melancholy atmosphere, leading in to the final track on side one, 'Soon, My Friend'. This track is uplifting and has a lovely acoustic guitar riff and a vocal refrain of "I'll be yours, Sunday". The bass hits hard and the strings add to the climatic sound. Reverse reverb is used in the final moments, fading out, side one, over.

Side two has more of a 'Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts' sound to it. The opening track is a ballad entitled 'My Tears Are Becoming A Sea'. It sounds like a melancholy and darker version of 'In Church' from the bands Dead Cities album. The drum beat kicks in as the King Crimson-esque sound rings loud. The progressive rock vibe is present as the synths shriek in unison once more, opening the second side of the album with menacing moods.

'New Map' is my favourite track on this album. It opens with a synth drone before the drum beat enters and the memorable, standout synth riff takes place much like a faster and more synthetic Midnight City. The song enters it's verse structure as the vocals sit well and have lovely left sided synths separating the layered vocals with the steady drum beat. The track has a little breakdown before returning to that opening synthetic sound and synth chorus. The vocals sit well on top as layers upon layers take control. Another breakdown has a saxophone solo and slower drumming and brilliant brass instrumentation which works a treat with the effectless electric guitar, fade out.

More vocal riffs occur on the following track 'Ok Pal'. Yet another heavy, 80's-esque sounding track. The high pitched synth sounds just work magnificently well with the beat. The vocals are again outstanding and sound very new-wave like. The chorus is brilliant and is split in to two parts with either synth taking the level beyond the simple drum beat. The refrain reads "Somewhere else", repeated twice to create a blend between climax and dynamics. 'Another Wave From You' is alike side ones 'Where The Boats Go'. It has a flowing ambient drone then the synths enter and sound fresh and almost cataclysmic. Every track on side one has it's 'sister', those being the tracks on side two, with the same progressions but different vibe.

The piano driven 'Splendor' has a saddening feel to it. the vocals are very deep and the reverb has been applied as expected. The ethereal, gospel vocal then enters as the low synth line shines. The melody is abstract and the track repeats itself with bass and heavier driven synthesizers. Vocals sounding much louder and breathtaking. 

'Year One, One UFO' is very ear friendly and bring backs the childlike visions of Raconte-Moi Une Histoire from side one. The guitar riff is very ear catching and the following drum rhythms are are fresh and very rock orientated rather than electronic. The atmosphere is uplifting and the track just sounds bright with ringing left sides chords which have been effected to a standard above my expectations. The riff returns as the childish vocals mirror the layered sound.

Mouth watering soundscapes appear on 'Fountains'. The late night jungle sounds work with the vocal screams and the 'Giorgio Moroder'-esque synth structure is thrilling. 'Steve McQueen' has a stylistic opening. The vocals are very light and dreary. The drum beat increase in tempo before smashing and the loud, spacious drones take place. This is one of the standout tracks and it has lovely vocal samples which have distortion lightly applied. 'Echoes of Mine' smashes and rings French vocal samples in to my ears. It's hard hitting drum beat is climatic and the synth layers are again present. It sounds slightly repetitive and is the only time I feel the sense of repetition on this album. 

The feeling of empathy takes place on these final three tracks. The previous hard hitting Echoes of Mine is very repetitive, but the following track 'Klaus I Love You', has some brilliant synth lines and ambient sound which create a synthetic atmosphere which follows between these final three tracks. The final track closing off the album, called 'Outro'. This track has some lovely string work and it's the summary. It's the closer, it's the cool down, it's the outro. The windy soundscape takes place in the centre before the strings and synths enter and explode, with an uplifting vibe. A technical drum beat is heard and the track yet again explodes with thunderous bass work and a climatic string ending, answering the questions left after the first track, intro. 

This concept is magnificent. The child-like imagery stands strong among the Midnight City vocal riff and the New Map drum beat. The little tiny details that make up this album have been produced magnificently well and effected adequately. Some tracks are lacking in memorability compared to others, but the overall strength to strength feel to the tracks outweigh those few repetitive, long winded tracks. The synth pop influences are present and his double album dream has come true here. This album is incredibly strong and easy to listen to (in some ways..). Album of the year 2011 for sure.
~Eddie

9.2

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