By Alex Kavanagh
There is something inherently exciting about The Double Album. What could an artist possibly have to say that’s so important, so groundbreaking, that they need two whole discs to say it? What auditory delights await us in those two hours plus; what secret wonders are hidden within that tome of enigmatic words masquerading as a track-list?
The flipside of this coin, are the raised expectations. Too much filler and you dilute the potency of the strong tracks. Too samey and the album bores exponentially, its blandness stretching off into the distance like one of those photos of Route 66. Making The Double Album is a roll of the dice, a risk to all but the most effortlessly brilliant musicians.
You’ll be pleased to know then, that on all counts M83‘s Hurry Up We’re Dreaming is a roaring success. It doesn’t bore, or stretch off into the horizon, there are delights aplenty, and enough secret wonders to captivate the listener from start to finish.
One of the first things to strike you is its immediacy. After the leisurely and recognisably-M83 intro featuring Zola Jesus, the album quickly kicks up a gear into ‘Midnight City’, the first single (already remixed to good effect by Big Black Delta & Trentemoller among others), which gives way to ‘Reunion’, possibly the best of all 22 tracks. It’s a real statement of intent, a powerful double-shot of pulsating electro-pop that’ll stay with you for hours, setting the bar high from the outset.
The pace comes down again after this to more familiar territory; psychedelic ambience and layers of shoegazey drone on ‘Where The Boats Go’. This is followed by the dreamy instrumentation and plaintive wailing of ‘Wait’, that could’ve been cut from Coldplay’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head (if it was produced by Brian Eno). Then it lifts again unexpectedly on ‘Raconte-Moi Une Histoire’, with a child describing a wonderfully surreal frog-licking trip over a sweet and hopeful backdrop of luscious synths and heavily reverbed vocals, climbing and building all the way to it’s conclusion. ‘Claudia Lewis’ is another strong track, sounding like an undiscovered Human League B-side from the end of the ‘80s with a gut-busting drum-machine/keyboard breakdown that belongs somewhere on the Rocky IV soundtrack. Sounds heinous on paper, but works like a dream.
This variety is championed throughout and is one of the album’s major strengths. When asked about the record in an interview with Spin, Anthony Gonzalez stated: “It’s mainly about dreams, how every one is different, how you dream differently when you’re a kid, a teenager, or an adult. I’m really proud of it. If you’re doing a very long album, all the songs need to be different and I think I’ve done that with this one.”
With all the muscle on disc one, you may be forgiven for thinking the creative juices had begun to dry and leave the second half weakened. Not so. There’s still plenty left to discover and while each new song is different, the tone is similar – equal parts otherworldly soundscapes and unashamedly poppy ‘80s throwbacks; magical melody followed by psychedelic post rock and epic digitised melancholia. It really is that ambitious. I was never quite sure what people meant when they called an album ‘a triumph’, but this is that record.
For me, this is a contender for album of the year and comes highly recommended, unless you’re a heartless stony golem with no soul, and a dusty cavity where your heart should be. BUY IT NOW!