When the Midnight City was released as the first single from M83’s latest effort Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, I was quite enthusiastic about Anthony Gonzalez’ new-old sound. The quintessential poppiness of the main hook unconsciously invokes happiness mixed with hopefulness, or rather, emotional buoyancy. The leading motive is simple but effective; what is easier to remember and whistle around than a simple and elegant melody with no unnecessary turns and fade-aways with a fluid and natural movement forward? That’s the essence of intelligent pop: smart simplicity and a simultaneous capture of the attention. The chemical and partly uncontrollable reaction of body and brain to a melody is a bottom line of pop music. Lyrics, layers and final sound are all vital, but the crucial role is an effective introduction and unforgettable chorus.
The first listen of the entire album (streamed at Urban Outfitters page) was a disappointing experience: Gonzalez was unable to go on the rapid and breathe-taking spirit of the first three songs, ever-evolving Intro with Zola Jesus on the climax vocals, above mentioned Midnight City and 80s-teens-on-ecstasy anthem Reunion. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming soon slows down and decomposes itself into intermezzos (Where The Boats Go), preludes (Another Wave From You), fragments of ideas, hymns (Soon, My Friend), poppy one-trick-ponies (OK Pal, Claudia Lewis) and so on. Especially the second disc is short of strong songs with the exception of bit saccharine Splendor and rapid Steve McQueen; the decision of releasing twenty-two songs on two discs comes as a slight shock after shorter, but much richer Saturdays=Youth.
However, M83’s sixth album ends as grandiose as it started seventy minutes before. The main motive of emotive piano, live, touching strings and loads of robust percussion is present in the DNA of many of these songs and Gonzalez builds it gradually undercover. The presence and in-built emotional scale is the pivotal essence of Outro. Its start is much anticipated and the evolution is made to the highest effect; the unchangeability of the theme and the structural permutation as well as the gradual evolution reminds me of Philip Glass’ blue-mark masterpiece Glassworks. Outro amazingly sums up the entire Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and enhances many of its pitfalls. Here Gonzalez nicely demonstrates his cinematic-leaning abilities and an ear for the emotion of tangible, genuine nostalgia. Such a pity he hasn’t evolved these qualities to a more consistent and bold work.