SotD - Solitude, M83


AlbieMedia's Song of the Day (SotD) is our choice of a single or album track that we think you need to hear. Today, Nate McKenzie listens to Solitude from M83...

Junk is the new album by M83 and it couldn't be any more appropriately titled.

That isn't a knock. Junk is damn good. Think "everything but the kitchen sink", then throw in the sink. Poppy synths, melodic ballads, lyrics in French, that adorable but still kind of creepy little girl's voice, and oh yeah Steve Vai on guitar. This album has everything fans have come to expect from M83 and more.

As the first song Do It, Try It begins with campy off-tempo lyrics I felt a bit of apprehension, fearing that this was the beginning of a journey down the wrong path - then the deep electronic bass and thumping rhythm drops and I was enraptured. This song, the first single from the album, is a mix of jumping piano and swirling digital haze laid over the soundtrack of a fantasy adventure video game from the 1980s.

In fact, the bands sole remaining regular member, Anthony Gonzalez, said that he was highly influenced by 80s TV shows such as Punky Brewster and Who's The Boss. That influence is apparent and complimentary. That is most obvious on the instrumental track Moon Crystal, which sounds like an actual sampling from the shows of my childhood.

The ballad For The Kids, featuring Norwegian singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfor and a smooth saxophone accompaniment, also utilizes a voice that M83 fans will recognize; the voice that belongs to young Zelly Boo Meldal-Johnsen who also narrated Raconte-Moi Une Histoire on Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.

I still think Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is a better, more complete album. But the differences between it and Junk is mere semantics. Hurry Up feels cosmic (M83 is the name of a spiral galaxy, after all) whereas Junk feels grounded in something gritty and tangible. But Junk doesn't lack that ethereal quality that permeates Hurry Up. Hurry Up was the pathos to Junk's ethos, both of which seek to convince the listener of the same conclusion: M83 has no peer in the electronic music universe.

Halfway down the list of tracks on Junk is my favorite (and therefore the best) song on the album: Solitude.

The unsettled feeling induced by the hypnotizing strings and breathy vocals on Solitude is almost sinister. It is the soundtrack to the inner monologue of a tortured mind; it's Pink Floyd and Enya on an ounce of shrooms, set against the backdrop of a David Fincher film about love and murder in a bay-side city. Solitude crescendos and crests so simple and clean before the reverb of the violin fades, wrapping it up like a street lamp burning out.

Fans of M83 should be ecstatic about this new album and the current tour. There aren't many bands like them in the world, and none that are doing what they do as well as they are doing it.

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