M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
[Mute / Naïve, 2011]
Nick Torsell, October 24, 2011
Originally published by Life’s Sweet Breath
Listen: “Steve McQueen”
A few summers back I went to Los Angeles to visit a friend. I hadn’t been there since I was very young, and it’s far enough from where I live that I didn’t know the next time I would be back. Along the way, at the burger places and the towns that surround L.A., I tried to take an extra second to make the memories stick. That’s apparently not how my brain works, and now whenever I think of the trip, the most vivid image is driving down the freeway at night and wondering how many people went to the Chuck E Cheese on the top of that hill to my left.
Frenchman Anthony Gonzales made his way to those same freeways in Los Angeles to record his new double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The album mirrors the city, and in a smaller sense that Chuck E Cheese I spotted a few years ago. It’s sprawling, bright, overwhelming, and sad the way children’s parties are for adults. There’s no search for fame, he’s licensed M83’s music to enough movie and television producers to not have to worry about that, but a desire to revisit the past. Gonzales mentioned in an interview with Stereogum before the release of the album, “I couldn’t care less about doing something modern.” The ignorance of the present and future has always been a major driving factor in his music, just pick up Saturdays=Youth, with its John Hughes character avatars on the cover coupled with 80’s pop synth hooks.Hurry Up continues with the 80’s worship, listen for the “In The Air Tonight” drum fill buried towards the end of “Midnight City,” but Gonzales also mentioned 90’s records like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness as an inspiration.
The most obvious departure for Gonzales on the record is the use of his voice. While past records relied more on female leads, like the excellent Morgan Kibby on Saturdays, Gonzales vocals take their place in front of the keyboard squall. After touring with acts like Depeche Mode and the Killers, big alternative rock acts that sell out big amphitheaters and arenas, the last couple of years, he claims he had a shift in priorities. When he spoke with Pitchfork recently he mentions, “I don’t want to have any regrets in 20 years for being shy in front of a microphone. I’m tired of it.” It certainly shows up on tracks like “Wait,” a song that begins soft and deliberate, but builds up to big stadium rock, the kind that Gonzales watched on tour across the U.S. and admires for its ability to connect to so many people.
Working against that desire to connect to a bigger group of people on the record is the length of Hurry Up. While there’s been a push against easily consumed singles and digital media lately, with most independent artist’s insistence on vinyl and even cassettes, it’s still how most people get their music. Gonzales concedes this in his interview with Pitchfork, “I am still very nostalgic about this idea of an object—something that you can listen to for a long time. This album is a statement in that way. Of course I’m to try to push people to buy it on CD or vinyl, but I know 90% of them will get it on iTunes, and that makes me sad.” These objects he talks about are certainly more comforting than a folder on a computer, and the double album serves as a longer escape against the boredom and tedium of daily life. It’s only a matter of taking the plunge and devoting your time to one thing instead of several.