What do you do when your songs begin to outgrow your name? In the case of M83, you go backwards, you get retro and weird. Famed for the obvious hits, ‘Kim & Jessie’ and of course ‘Midnight City’, mastermind Anthony Gonzalez hasn’t done the expected and churned out yet more of the same, he’s gone and retreated into his LA studio and produced the closest thing to an 80’s revival since Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’.
Upon first seeing the artwork for the album one might be inclined to think it a joke. It mirrors that of a really, really awful children’s meal from a fast food chain, but rest assured what’s contained inside this artwork is more than a cheap facsimile. Somehow Gonzalez has gone back in time and brought the 80’s back with him, to call this a curve-ball would be a massive understatement.
The first listen into what to expect came with opening track ‘Do It, Try It’, which was admittedly not at all what any of us were expecting, but in the context of the album it all makes perfect sense. It’s quite literally Gonzalez telling us to give this album a chance and just listen. When you do you are swiftly rewarded; second track ‘Go’ instantly has a more familiar sound while sticking true to the overtly brash chorus of synthesisers, even going as far to include a screaming guitar solo befit of Van Halen.
There are also numerous soft synthesiser ballads that pick you up and gently lay you down, such as ‘For The Kids’ which has all the charm and grace of a 90’s action movie sex scene. Of course, there is a lot to be said around the seriousness of which to take this album, and exactly how big the pinch of salt is required to go in and listen. It takes on a whole new level of oxymoron, bringing forth a dignified level of cheese that recaptures those elements that we all profess, secretly or not, to love.
Many cases will be made against this album and it’s severe change in trajectory for Gonzalez’ career but his ability to craft pure, electronic pop doesn’t falter. Even if said pop belongs on a battered VHS at a car boot sale.