M83, a band known for the mega-hit single “Midnight City” has released the newest album, Junk, on April 8. M83 is a French electronic band fronted by Anthony Gonzalez, and have released seven albums. Including, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming which had been nominated for a Grammy. The band has a distinctive sound: saxophones, loud synth, peppy guitar riffs, and softly spoken lyrics, sometimes in French, underneath it all.
Granted, it is hard to follow the last release from M83- after all, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was highly praised and considered their best album to date. Junk tries hard to match the similar sounds from the 2011 hit album, but slightly misses the mark. Gonzalez is quoted as defining the album’s existence as: “An ‘organized mess’—a collection of songs that aren’t made to live with each other, yet somehow work together.” Some songs do a better job of this than others.
There still exist all the elements of M83 that loyal fans enjoy: the sexy, tenderly spoken French, booming saxophone, and swirling synth sounds. However, the album kind of reminds me of a metaphor I heard once about bikes: having too many different bike pieces and trying to build a functional bike often leads to the bike not working as a whole.
While as a whole, the album struggles to come together, there are definitely songs worth listening to on the album. Where Go!, tries to be what “Midnight City” was, “Walkaway Blues” takes old successful elements and creates a new and very enjoyable sound filled with choruses of electric brass and soft lyrics. “Time Wind” features none other than Beck’s pleasing voice reverb-ing against a 80s upbeat synth backdrop in a breezy, effortless track. “Do It, Try It,” is my least favorite track, with the slight offbeat nature followed by a booming chorus blasting with synth and overpowering electronic noise.
Maybe it’s that nothing can touch the original or maybe I am simply just expecting too much from M83 since Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming became one of my favorite albums. Either way, the album as a whole leaves much to be desired, but in single tracks, certain songs are unquestionably quality and worth a listen. Interestingly enough, in an interview Gonzalez predicts how fans will feel about the album: “They’re just gonna pick certain songs they like — one, two, if you’re lucky — and trash the rest. All else becomes junk.” While I don’t write the album off, I would have to agree.
Tracks to Listen: