The Eighties called. They want their music back.
What do you get if you cross My Bloody Valentine with The Cocteau Twins, Tears For Fears, the films of John Hughes (especially The Breakfast Club), Japan (the downbeat, bizarrely-coiffured New Romantics, not the country), Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, The Blue Nile, Kate Bush, A Flock Of Seagulls (And you thought Japan were bizarrely-coiffured?), Blade Runner, Goldfrapp, Philip Glass, Brian Eno, The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’, Gary Numan, Tangerine Dream, Slowdive and Simple Minds? You get ‘Saturdays=Youth’ by M83, aka French prodigy Anthony Gonzalez (above). Why, of course!
On paper, the above list of influences should prove too disparate to work alongside each other but it does work, and works brilliantly. One listen to ‘Saturdays=Youth’ shows that, miraculously, Gonzalez has crafted a thrilling, huge-sounding and endlessly replayable piece of work. It’s a jarring experience at first, listening to those cheesy big synth-drums and retro-keyboard flourishes that hark back to 1985 , but you quickly become accustomed to it. It’s unashamedly derivative and many will scratch their heads that someone should fashion an album so willfully steeped in the past. It wouldn’t work, of course, if the actual songwriting wasn’t up to scratch but it is. In spades. But it also works because much of what made Gonzalez’s last two (equally remarkable) albums so intriguing, namely those dark, slow-building, portentous and richly atmospheric walls of layered guitar and synths, can still be found on ‘Saturdays=Youth’, especially on ‘Highway Of Endless Dreams’. Add to that the pristine vocals of one Morgan Kibby on many of the tracks and you have something truly special indeed. We are only in April but this is already my contender for album of the year.