Wednesday, April 23, 2008

M83 / "Saturdays = Youth"

Dear M83,

It wasn't easy for me to write this. As you know, I have the a great deal of respect for you. However, I think it's time I leave you behind. Things started out incredible when we met. "Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts" won my heart the first time I heard it. Even with our imminent break-up, I'll still always cherish the record. It was a perfect, if very unlikely, combination of Boards of Canada's analog keyboards with the shoegaze aesthetic of My Bloody Valentine. Truth be told, I still prefer that album to anything either of those acts released. It was that good.

Times weren't as easy when the follow-up, "Before the Dawn Heals Us", arrived. I mean, sure, it was a fine album, but it never reached any of the peaks of its predecessor. You were changing, times were changing, and I felt a distance growing between us. At the time, I thought it was just a minor set-back. You would fine-tune your sound, make whatever rehashes you felt were necessary, and we would return to the splendor we had when we met.

But that's not what you did, is it? You decided instead of making revolutionary electronica records you'd rather make an 80's dance-pop throwback album. After all, aping New Order and the Cure is so hot right now. It's like you're not even trying!

I'm done waiting for you to be everything you promised me you could be. What hurts most is there's still talent there. "Couleurs" is a stellar track. Closing number "Midnight Souls Still Remain" has the same ambient quality of the quieter tracks off "Dead Cities". Some of the other songs show promise until you decide they're not "retro" enough and insist on making the synth line more hackneyed and the vocals more nostalgic, or else putting in a pointless and distracting spoken word bridge. It's the worst kind of bad album: a bad album by an obviously talented artist who appears content to squander his gift. You're Robert Pollard, post-Guided by Voices. You're Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky". You're done in my eyes, and you and I both know the only way you're going to win me back: release the kind of album that made me fall in love with you in the first place.

Best wishes,


Rating: 4.0

1 comment:

CoachDub said...

I agree with your assessment, but take issue with part of your description. This album is, in fact, no good. However, I really like "Graveyard Girl" quite a lot.
But, while I agree with most of what you said, I do not think this album represents an aping of New Order or the Cure, mostly because the songs here are all so boring, and those two bands do not make boring music.
Too many of the songs here are like crescendos that never crescendo. They seem like they should build to something, but they just stay flat.