For their fifth album, Saturdays = Youth, France's M83 conjures up the 1980s in all their candy-colored glory. Even the cover portrait, showcasing models in rolled-sleeve blazers, peg-leg pants, and pastel prom dresses, evokes John Hughes' high-school classics Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. In the liner notes, singer/multi-instrumentalist Anthony Gonzalez thanks the individuals who "made my teenager years so great!" and in "Graveyard Girl," he name-checks Molly Ringwald (he also takes a page from the Air playbook with allusions to stars, rockets, and other notebook-doodle favorites). There's a difference, however, between poaching from the past and recreating it. Despite the abundance of pretty-boy (and girl) vocals, oceanic keyboards, and big electronic beats--recalling '80s icons from Simple Minds to Kate Bush--Saturdays feels more like an affectionate tribute than a cynical carbon copy. Like the couple at the heart of "Kim and Jessie," Gonzalez is "crazy about romance and illusions," but all is not sweetness and light as a few numbers betray a Tim Burton-style Goth influence, which helps to alleviate any potential sugar shock. Saturdays = Youth is a precious gift from a secret admirer, wrapped in ambience and sealed with a blood-red kiss. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
TIPS: This is a very "clear" sounding production so do yourself a favor and be sure to use some nice open back headphones and an amplifier capable of detailed and punchy sound. I use AKG-Q701 that I got on sale here at Amazon and with a second generation Sony CD player (CDP-302). The MP3 version doesn't do justice to the sound.
Also keep the volume on the lower end as tempting as it might be to start powerfully, it will get there soon enough. Let the music get you there do't rush it. Let the album adventure unpack itself.
Following a brief MySpace listen, the purchase was on it's way. Subsequent to receipt of tangible CD (yes, I believe in those, too), the tunes nary left the headphones or space of my experiences. Do any of you recall those formative albums, where the listen ushers in instant transportation of nostalgic times? Akin to the the way the scent of apple-cinnamon takes one back to grandma's house as a child, certain albums were crafted with such heart and thoughtfulness that they capture the spirit of one's life transition of the time. Remember those? Think: Songs from the Big Chair for my childhood, Vitalogy for my tweens and high school, Dashboard for college, and Copeland's Eat Sleep Repeat for the post-college years. While I could go on, the instance remains rare. Well, at 27 years of age, it occurred again. The reminiscent synth and verb of yesteryears came to color and shape the years of current. Consequently, m83 (along with the Album Leaf) captured my grad school years.
If for some reason you have not heard this album, know little of this 'band,' fear not, I urge you. Careening through nostalgic keys and dream-wave melodies, this is NOT reminiscent of the 80's in a power-cheese manner. On the contrary, the album's return to the past teems with such heartfelt emotion, passion, and I-am-reliving-it-again memories that it works. Scratch that, it does not 'work,' it stirs the soul. New wave stirs the soul? Undoubtedly. While initially odd, the title of the album resounds well with the spirit of the album. Saturday WAS once the freedom of existence. The songs whisper to the heart's longings to the lost innocence of past. The album is, really, a lament.
The album starts with "You, Appearing" which has a nice piano piece and progressively joined by a synth pad of ambient sound and anthony's voice. The song is very dreamlike and has a nostalgic feel. This is reversed with the next song which has more of a synth pop upbeat feel with "kim & jessie". Very likable song. It is followed by the "skin of the night" which has a great duet? of anthony and the Morgan Kibby's soothing voice. Kibby's voice is at the forefront song but I particularly like anthony's backdrop voice to hers which makes this song work. Is then followed by "Graveyard Girl", which again just like the beginning this album with the song "you appearing" followed by the upbeat song "kim & jessie" , graveyard girl is the upbeat response to skin of the night melancholic feel. Its got a nice beat and anthony's voice really makes this song deserve a repeat. This song is followed by the "Couleurs" which is has a long build up and has this trance like feel. Coleurs is anthony breaking away from the early songs of this album and going for a his signature synths. He still adds his vocals in a drone melodic like manner in the end of the song which elevates this song even more. Coulerus is followed by probably my least favorite song in this album "UP!" kibby has a very soothing voice and she is the main voice in this song, but I think this song is a bit cheesy and boring. I tend to skip this song a lot.
We own the sky is a very nice song and has anthony and kibbys voice layered in this dreamlike feel. The song is followed with a more dreamepic of "highway of endless dreams" which i think the best way to describe this song is going down a tunnel really fast with lights passing by. The cacophony of voices and the drum build has this trance effect. It is following by "Too Late" a piece which has again a very melachonly nostalgic feel. It has a piano piece sound like you appearing but anthony's voice in this piece is more profound really makes this one of my favorites of this album.
The song which I like most in this album has to be "Dark Moves of Love" everything about this song I like. The voice combo and the drum piece stand out in this song. Similarly, the lyrics albeit simple are powerful. This song is 2nd to my favorite song of M83 "run into flowers" from dead cities, red seas and lost ghosts. "Dark Moves of Love" is by far the best song in this album.
Its is followed by a drone like song in "Midnight Souls still remain" that isn't much of a song but rather just ambient synth. Not much going on in this song.
Ranking from Favorite to least
1) Dark Moves of Love
2) Too Late
3) Skin of the Night
4) Highway of Endless Dreams
5)Kim & Jessie
6) You appearing
8) Graveyard girl
9) We Own the sky
11) Midnight Souls still remain