Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Music: M83

The French group M83 is named after a spiral galaxy 15 million light years away, which perfectly characterizes the lush atmospherics that the act is known for. Formerly a duo, since the 2005 album Before The Dawn Heals Us it has been the sole project of Anthony Gonzalez. France has produced a lot of great electronic-based acts, such as Air, Daft Punk, and Justice, but M83's songs have a more organic, tuneful quality. Many songs follow a more traditional rock arrangement, influenced by shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine, with hushed vocals bathed in a wash of synths.

The music mostly conjures two themes in its imagery- gloom and teenage nostalgia. But as the picture above illustrates, it's a more youthful sense of gloom reminiscent of Halloween- romanticized and borderline goth. Anthony Gonzalez has an abiding fascination with the 80's, and many of the music videos mimic the plot of a John Hughes film. Even the cover of the new album, Saturdays=Youth, features an exact look-alike of Molly Ringwald. As Gonzalez writes in the album liner notes, "Thanks to all the friends, music, movies, joints, and crazy teachers that made my teenage years so great!"
I discovered M83 with the gorgeously hazy 'Run Into Flowers', which I highly recommend, though its music video isn't much more than a Windows 95-era screensaver. M83's subsequent videos are much better, usually profiling a teenage girl and her unrequited love.

In the video for 'Graveyard Girl', our subject likes to hang around pet cemeteries and has a crush on the popular boy in school. Will he ever notice her? It reminds me of the Emilio Estevez/Ally Sheedy relationship from The Breakfast Club. In a spoken segment midway through, she asks with adorable melodrama, "I'm fifteen years old and I feel it's already too late to live. Don't you?"

New single "Kim and Jessie"

Standout videos from the previous album Before The Dawn Heals Us. I love how they're both connected.The video for the pummeling "Don't Save Us From The Flames" reminds me of a cross between E.T. and Donnie Darko. Two girls both like the same guy. Whom will he choose?

The song 'Teen Angst' sounds like 8-bit video game music for Mega Man. This video features the other girl from the love triangle. Was the previous story all just a dream?