M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
by Nathan Goldman (Computer Science/Cognitive Psychology), published November 28th 2011
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Anthony Gonzalez is a French musician who, under the name M83, has spent the past ten years making ambitious music that people like to call ‘powerful,’ ‘epic,’ ‘vast’ and ‘cinematic.’ His work, which mixes various influences such as shoegaze, ambient, and other electronic music, feels designed to impart everyday life with a feeling of grandeur, as if the things done while listening to it are filled with capital-M Meaning. So in retrospect, the fact that he chose to make his new release, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, a double album is not surprising, in fact, the only surprise was that he hadn’t already done one.
Of course, the ‘double album’ label is a bit misleading, as Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is only about fifteen minutes longer than M83’s last album, Saturdays = Youth. However, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming packs in twice as many tracks, with the average song length a little under three and a half minutes long. This is partially due to a number of short ambient interludes, but also due to a general shortening of all songs to a more pop-friendly length.
Unfortunately, this ends up having a somewhat flattening effect on the album. Even though the songs, when heard in isolation, can have a greater impact, the act of listening to the album as a whole just amounts to listening to huge emotional climaxes, with little in between. It’s ultimately a matter of diminishing returns; by the time you’ve reached the second disc, these moments just feel like the norm and hardly seem to matter anymore, let alone feel powerful.
Luckily, before it’s given you a chance to tire of the act, the album opens with a number of its best songs, a number of which benefit from longer-than-average lengths, with more room to stretch out and explore a given concept. The sequence of the first six tracks is probably one of the best sections on any M83 album, mixing straightforward pop songs like “Midnight City” with slower builds like “Intro” and “Wait,” along with one of the album’s best interludes and a stupidly catchy song featuring a child telling a story about a magical frog. However, everything begins to feel progressively duller, with songs that seem to present an interesting idea, but then end before doing anything. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming has far too many good qualities to be something that could rightfully be called bad, yet it feels like less than the sum of its parts, and a profound disappointment from an artist who has shown himself capable of more.
Recommended Tracks: Intro (feat. Zola Jesus), Midnight City, Wait