Hold on to your hard hats, everyone–it’s time to take a brief sweep through Pitchfork territory. Go ahead and gather up the 1980’s (sans the Speak-N-Spell), dark pop, sprinkles (shots, if you will) of indie-electro shivers, Anthony Gonzales, and a few good producers including Ken Thomas, Ewan Pearson, and Morgan Kibby. Jumble that all up together and what have you? Nope, not Xanadu, though kudos to you for your unwavering optimistic attitude toward the film’s revival. No, it’s the latest album by M83, entitled Saturdays=Youth.
Intending to supply a nod or two to those golden days of yore, Mr. Gonzales has thrown a wrench into his typical electro-ambient stylings with the occasional blips and bleeps that made the ’80’s so undeniably cheesy and wonderful. Now don’t roll your eyes just yet. I, like you, am quite beyond the whole ’80’s revival scene (it’s so mid-’00’s), but when I say revival, it’s not in regards to the mere usage of a few blaring synthesizers, but more of a subtle recapturing of the sounds and noises of 1980’s New Wave pop.
Saturdays=Youth is stunning, truly. The moody, breathy male and female vocals of the album carry well over its collection of strumming guitars and clouded synths, allowing each track its own unearthly sound. Layered tracks like the first single, “Couleurs” as well as lead-off track “You Appearing” and “Highway of Endless Dreams” prove that the involved producers are adept at doing more than merely recreating yesterday’s sounds, but rather carving complex monuments devoted to previous conquerors of all things synthesized. Gonzales also proves to pave his own inroads into dark pop, providing songs like “Graveyard Girl” and “Kim & Jessie,” unmistakably legitimate tracks that fall in line perfectly with the best of them–from Depeche Mode to New Order. There’s also the breathtaking sixth track, “Up!” of which I’m convinced features Allison Goldfrapp’s tender vocals. Through the album’s deeply dark melodies and brighter flourishes however, Gonzales never loses his way for a second.