Anthony Gonzalez knew what kind of music he wanted to make, but it wasn’t until he picked up an astronomy book and saw a picture of the Messier 83 (M83) galaxy that he fully realized what music he was making.
The music Gonzalez was making “was very ambient, very electronic, and very dreamy” so the name M83 fit very well. For the past few years, the band has been a solo project since Nicolas Fromageau’s departure, but on the latest album, Gonzalez invited Loic Maurin (longtime collaborator) and Morgan Kibby (The Romanovs) to join him.
Gonzalez had previously experimented with a less electronic and more ambient sound on the earlier Digital Shades, Vol. 1. He wanted to follow it up with something different: “I wanted to make the record sound really eighties” (press release). The result is the aptly titled Saturdays=Youth to encapsulate both the innocence and indifference of that decade’s teen-angst filled youth. “Saturday is definitely the coolest day of the week for a teenager.”
An abundance of synths and minimal vocals allow M83 to capture that carefree disillusionment in a dream pop aura or a more appropriate space-rock aura. With its tranquil melody, “You, Appearing” is the perfect opening track, until the emotionless “it’s your face” and the haunting “where are we” lyrics repeat toward the wholly upsetting “save me.”
It’s hard to say which generation was scarred more — Generation Y or anyone imagining society run by Generation Y. M83 pushes toward the latter with “Kim & Jessie” and the serenity that only a euphoric drug experience can bring (“Somebody lurks in the shadows / Somebody whispers / Somebody lurks in the shadows / Yeah yeah yeah”).
The potential exists for a boundless positive future (“Graveyard Girl” in spirit) or at least a controlled direct one (a bluntly “We Own The Sky”). That same unknown matches M83’s shoegaze style, as in the epic “Couleurs” and the idly ambivalent “Highway Of Endless Dreams.”
Oddly, Gonzalez and Kibby’s vocals both complement and contrast each other. When one is sympathetic, the other is candid yet vulnerable. When they are confronted, they play around any awkwardness and somehow everything is merely let go. If only anything were really that simple.