Anthony Gonzalez AKA M83 has consistently been receiving praise for his own take on the dreampop scene. Yet despite being a keen fan of the genre I’ve never quite got what the fuss is all about. The last two albums have each featured cracking singles only to be accompanied by an hour’s worth of pale imitations which value superficial atmospherics over songwriting. For ‘Saturdays = Youth’, however, Gonzalez has discovered a sense of emotion and structure.
‘Kim & Jessie’ is a supercharged shoegaze number; a little too artificial in its execution but it’s an undeniably uplifting song; perfect for soundtracking a brat pack movie. ‘You, Appearing’ is an unusually subtle opener whilst ‘Too Late’ is a perfect balance of blissful melody and melancholy. Better still, the standout track ‘Couleurs’ justifies its eight minute length since it’s a great instrumental powered by an insistent, edgy hook and ‘Dark Moves Of Love’ is a multi-layered tour de force.
This being Anthony Gonzalez though, he can’t resist the urge for excess and just about every song here is layered with overly lush arrangements and much of the vocal contributions are about as easily washed away as a sandcastle. ‘Midnight Souls Still Remain’ lingers on for twelve minutes of pointless droning but at least once you’ve heard it you can cut the overall length of the record down to a much less bloated fifty minutes.
I think for the first time Gonzalez has started to nail his quest for aural euphoria. ‘Saturdays = Youth’ may jackhammer home the message but now the songs tend to stay longer in the memory. In fact, ironically for an album which celebrates teenage years, this could be Gonzalez’s most mature offering yet.
Ulrich Schnauss, Dextro