2011 was the year Anthony Gonzalez of M83 found himself. Or, better yet, the world finally found M83. The French musician’s ambitious double album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming wasn’t a game-changer. It didn’t redefine sonic boundaries or place indie-synth pop in some new levels of artistic proportion – it was just a really fucking good album. It took the best parts of M83 past – silky, swirling textures, hands-to-the-sky bombast – and M83 present – dance rhythms, big hooks and a wide-eyed teenage wonder – and created the album we always knew was possible, but just couldn’t hear right away,
Formed in 2001 by Gonzalez and Nicholas Fromageau, the duo released two albums of shoe-gaze indebted material, M83 and Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts, before Fromageau left the group and Gonzalez continued solo, retaining the moniker M83. Since Fromageau’s departure, M83 has featured a steady line-up consisting of Gonzalez, his younger brother Yann Gonzalez, Morgan Kibby and Loic Maurin, however the older Gonzalez is consistently referred to as the leader of the group.
M83’s fifth album, 2005’s Saturdays = Youth, witnessed a sharp change in direction for the band. The album steered the group further from shoegaze and ambience towards a more dance and synth-pop inspired direction. The album, drawing inspiration from 80s pop and John Hughes films, emphasized a simple and far more focused approach to songwriting. Tracks such as “Kim and Jessie” and “Graveyard Girl,” despite the big guitars, were deeply intimate conversations with fresh-faced innocent teens. The central themes of the album – adolescence, death and romance – were wrapped in an airy coat of pop song production and white noise atop four-to-the-floor dance beats, a prom soundtrack for the 21st century Brat Pack.
The wide-eyed innocence and wayfaring nostalgia of Saturdays = Youth struck a chord with fans and critics. The album was M83’s most successful and they embarked on tours supporting commercially acclaimed acts such as The Killers, Depeche Mode and Kings of Leon. It was during these tours that Gonzalez claims he began to gather inspiration for Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was inspired by a new rush of life Gonzalez felt, touring the U.S. and ultimately moving to California. “Having spent 29 years of my life in France, I moved to California a year and a half before the making of this album and I was excited and inspired by so many different things,” he says, “…by the landscape, by the way of life, by live shows, by movies, by the road trips I took alone... I was feeling alive again and this is, I feel, something that you can hear on the album”
The album found the delicate balance between synth-pop, songcraft and ambiance necessary to wow critics and wriggle into fans’ collective acceptance. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is to date M83’s most critically and commercially successful album. A big album full of big emotions, it captures everything that fans loved about M83: innocence, joy, beauty, wonder, excitement and, probably most importantly, rhythm.
M83 will perform at Coachella on Friday, April 13 and Friday April 20. For more information, visit IloveM83.com (subtle, no?)