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M83’s ‘“Junk” is another fan’s treasure

After four years M83 releases their highly anticipated follow up to breakout ”Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.”  |  stereogum.com

 

M83’s “Junk” is a spaceship joyride traveling back in time, paying homage to the gaudy and ornate synths of the ‘80s and the abysmal piano serenades of the ‘70s.

TRASH THE NOTIONS

A celebration of teenage adolescence defined M83’s breakout album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” However, lead man Anthony Gonzalez wanted to trash the notions and expectations of a cohesive, creative concept in his new album “Junk.” A sense of nihilism and cynicism exists within the title of the album itself.

“This is how people listen to music nowadays: They’re just gonna pick certain songs they like — one, two, if you’re lucky — and trash the rest. All else becomes junk,” said Gonzalez in a recent interview with Pitchfork. Although his statement about the way consumers listen to albums rings unnervingly true, Gonzalez still provides his listeners another piece that grabs the mundanity in life and warps it into utterly beautiful atmospheric bliss — just as the French-based leadman did in his breakout album five years ago.

CONCOCTION OF FUN

Although there may not be the anthem-like hits provided in “Midnight City,” “Junk” is a concoction of fun, ethereal sounds that work well in one album. Beginning with the initial release of “Do it, Try it,” M83 provides said fun with quirky randomness comprised of slap bass and cosmic piano melodies, weaving in and out of vocoder commands, urging audiences to “do it” and “try it.” The chorus induces an anthemic sound juxtaposed with the spacey synths we are used to with M83. Yet, the haunting criticism of M83 being too ambitious began to bear truth. After a few listens “Do it, Try it” grew on listeners rapidly and left them hooked, waiting anxiously for the next single to be released.

Solitude” furthered the pleasantry of “Junk.” The six-minute ballad veers away from the cheesiness of “Do it, Try it” and returns to the spacey loveliness of their 2011 breakout with hauntingly surreal yet soothing orchestral sounds that make the whole six-minutes worth the listen.

The best track on this album is “Road blaster.” The single makes for a dance-along masterpiece featuring a throwback bombastic baseline with synthesized brassy licks and riffs running in between verses and the bridge.

LOW POINTS

Nonetheless, this album has its low points. “Bibi, The Dog,” “The Wizard” and “Crystal Moon” are almost nonsensical. “Crystal Moon” is especially cheesy and absurd — almost like elevator music, drawing inspiration from Gonzalez’s favorite childhood programs like Punky Brewster.

French pop artist Mai Lan is the main virtual voice assistant to this spaceship of an album, with her vocals proving as a plus throughout “Junk” with the exception of “Bibi The Dog.” Lan’s enticing and subdued vocals cut through the exciting “Go!” and foot-tapping “Laser Gun” that remind me of Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor.”

SURPRISE APPEARANCE

There is a surprise appearance of the harmonica in “Junk” towards the end of the last track “Sunday Night 1987,” an emotional ballad portraying seeming state of disillusion with the direction of his sound. His vocals and piano melodies in this song sound reminiscent of earlier M83 albums — a great way to cap off this album.

If someone is looking forward to the same M83 concert pitch music fans grew to love, this is not the album for them. Yet this album remains ultra-experimental and sentimental in a compelling way that will be polarizing for critics and fans. Should M83 stick to this sound? Not necessarily — but this album should still be given a chance. Even though Gonzalez tries to make a bold statement with this formulation of “Junk,” his artistic ingenuousness shines through his sixth album release.

 

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