Listening to French dream-pop act M83 is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole. To fully appreciate their soaring, melancholic pastiche, it’s best to indulge in a bit of synesthesia, allowing Anthony Gonzalez’s sweetly plaintive lyrics to conjure the sights, smells, and tastes of adolescence. Over the past 10 years, the band, led by 30-year-old Gonzalez, has put out six records, each one building off the last. The result is this autumn’s magnum opus, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, an epic, two-disc album that smolders with yearning for a simpler time.
If 2008’s Saturdays = Youth provided the perfect sonic accompaniment to an imagined, post-millennial John Hughes film, then M83’s latest effort evokes something more personal and mature, albeit still rooted in the cinematic. “It really does feel like a movie,” says Gonzalez. “I was working with the idea of providing the soundtrack to my life.” The album encompasses the vastness of Terrence Malick, the teenage beauty of Sofia Coppola, and a sprinkle of David Lynch’s haunted vision. “It’s like a roller coaster, and it needs to be, especially when you make a double album. You need to make sure that it moves around, that it’s not all stuck in the same place.” To write the album, Gonzalez sojourned to Joshua Tree in the California desert to cloak himself in quiet, accompanied only by his two keyboards and a computer. “I like composing on the road. I like to be alone in a place,” he says.
While movies clearly inform Gonzalez’s sound, it’s his childhood that provides the main inspiration for Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. “When I first moved to LA in 2010, it was a new environment and a new city, which is hard at first. I felt lonely, and so I started to remember myself as a kid, the things I used to dream about,” Gonzalez says. Even on his purely instrumental tracks, he manages to create an atmosphere vivid with nostalgia, but the feeling is one of hope rather than loss. “I’m more creative when I’m thinking about my past. This album is a tribute to those years of my life. I was dreaming as a kid, and I’m still dreaming as a grown-up.” With Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Gonzalez proves he’s evolved from post-youth confusion to adult curiosity. “I have more expectations, and I really think that I’m only starting to be a musician,” he says. The best, it seems, is still yet to come.
Photo by Anouck Bertin.