Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Friday, March 28, 2008

M83 - Saturdays = Youth (2008)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

I didn't live through the 1980's, and until now, I didn't regret it. Despite uncovering many strong points and varying styles (The Cure, Tom Waits and various underground punk for example), I still consider the majority of the 80's one of the weakest decades of music for the past 60 years. But from the moment I heard the opening kaleidoscopic chords and swirling radiance of M83's new lead single, "Graveyard Girl", I felt an uncontrollable nostalgia for that time. The bulk of Saturdays = Youth is no different. It inspires a giddy and uncontrollable glee for the oft-misunderstood era, celebrating The Breakfast Club, big hair styles and unashamed abuse of synths. But the reason why this succeeds as much more than a dated period piece is because M83 is still an Electronica project at heart. All sorts of production quirks and brief spoken word sections make Saturdays = Youth much more than a simple tribute to an era. It's a reinterpertation, integrated with the contemplative and paranoid-driven insight of the 2000's; kind of like an album version of Donnie Darko, except celebrating the things we might've missed from the decade, rather than causticly satirizing it. Piano-led tracks like "Too Late" and "You, Appearing" do away with the cheesiness that tended to ruin so many songs from the 80's and heightens the genuine sentimentality with walls of rich, dramatic sound. "Highway of Endless Dreams" builds and expands like a modern techno song and instills the generation with a grandeurous driving force. The extended bridges and soaring hooks on tracks like "Kim & Jessie" and "We Own The Sky" overflow with the romantic innocence and bright-eyed curiosity that was so common among youth of the 80's. And closer, "Midnight Souls Still Remain" is nearly 12 minutes of thoughtful and uplifting Ambiance, seeming to bookend the collection with one last triumphant defense for the daydreaming demeanor lost to the hard-hitting 90's. Admittedly, M83 has had a hard time throwing off the shackles of living in My Bloody Valentine's shadow and because of the reverb and shrieking distortion effects in Saturdays = Youth, the similarities probably won't stop being noted. But M83's third album is so refreshing that it lessens the implications of inferiority in that comparison. By making the connections between the 80's and Loveless more apparent, Saturdays = Youth defends its credibility, while mastering a joyous middle-point sound of its own.

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