Monday, December 29, 2008

M83: Saturdays = Youth

2008 is the year M83 broke through. I've been following them since 2004, and I had Before the Dawn Heals Us as one of my top ten albums from 2005--even though it only made one notable top ten list that year--but this year their album Saturdays = Youth appeared in seven best-of-the-year lists, even coming in as 2008's #1 album according to one critic. (There's an outside chance you've heard M83's song in the second half of this trailer for my favorite Russian movie, which is a cool trailer, but not nearly as cool as this trailer for Benjamin Button. Anyway...)

The key difference between Before the Dawn and Saturdays is its '80s synth emphasis. Given the album's title, it's absolutely intentional. Anthony Gonzalez, the Frenchman who makes M83 a one man band, is a child of the 1980s and he revisits his youth, sonically speaking. Furthermore, one of the album's best songs, "Kim & Jessie" is about teenagers (watch the song's fairly-'80s-and-slightly-bicurious music video if you want), and several other songs feature a teenage protagonist. "Graveyard Girl" (below) and "We Own The Sky" (video below) are great tracks, but songs like "Couleurs" and "Up!" detract from Saturdays.

There seem to be several neo-'80s electronica outfits that produced albums this year (MGMT, Gang Gang Dance, Cyrstal Castles, Cut Copy, etc.), all of which were well received. For whatever reason, these records seem to be appearing in, well, record numbers. I'm not bemoaning this fact, I'm merely intrigued (and wondered if anybody else has noticed).

Grade: B-
Blurb: Saturdays is no Before the Dawn, but thankfully it's much better than M83's 2007 effort, Digital Shadows. Thankfully. No, seriously, I hated Digital Shadows. If you need to buy one neo-'80s electronica album from 2008, you might be better served with MGMT's Oracular Spectacular, but Saturdays gets the silver medal. Check out M83's "Graveyard Girl" or watch this fan-made video for "We Own the Sky":

graveyardgirl_128k.wma - M83

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