Releasing a double album is a bold, risky move by any musician, especially in 2011. Considering the already expansive and sprawling sound of M83, it makes perfect sense for them to try it. Their fifth album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,” avoids the pitfalls many double albums fall into and results in something truly remarkable and wondrous.
M83 singer, composer and lyricist Anthony Gonzalez has cited his admiration for famous double albums like The Beatles’ “White Album” and The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” On many levels, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is just as ambitious as those albums were, successfully letting the music drive the album without ever becoming too drawn out, boring or pretentious.
At its core, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is an homage to youth and growing up and how our dreams and aspirations differ from childhood to adulthood. From the epic, almost birth-like “Intro” to the playful pop of “Year One, One UFO,” it is easy to feel an exuberant rush of nostalgia from several of the songs on the 22-track album. “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” is literally a young girl telling a story about a magical frog set to a fun hook, yet there is something oddly heartwarming about it.
The overarching themes of childhood, dreams, and imagination are not the only reasons “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” might sound a bit familiar. Gonzalez is heavily inspired by all things ‘80s, and implements that love more than ever on this album. Several of these songs would not sound out of place on the soundtrack to a Molly Ringwald movie. “Reunion,” with its steel drums, echoed yelps and infectiously catchy beat, sounds like what would happen if Phil Collins took Genesis in a New Wave direction. The same can be said for “Claudia Lewis,” which is an excellent ode to Peter Gabriel. Gonzalez is not simply imitating the style of his musical influences but is using that style as the blueprint to create a sound that only M83 could pull off.
“Midnight City” is perhaps the best display of all of Gonzalez’s strengths as an artist. He electronically amplifies his own yelps to a ridiculously high pitch, which serves as a unique, catchy backdrop on the most straightforward dance song on the album. The track also includes an awesome Kenny G-esque saxophone solo, which somehow fits the song perfectly.
It is not all synth-heavy jams though. A few flashes of M83’s past, more subdued style do make their way onto the album, with fantastic results. Both “Wait” and “Splendor” are the rare type of naturally beautiful, hard-hitting masterpieces that Coldplay wishes they could write. The album also features many instrumental interludes, which carry the album in a natural progression, rather than sounding like filler.
“Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is a dedication to dreams, and a reminder not to forget but rather embrace the wide-eyed ones we had as children. On a first listen, the album can be a bit overwhelming, simply because of just how massive it all sounds. But it is a musical adventure, spanning two disks full of catchy, nostalgically enchanting brilliance.