Saturdays = Youth
(Three and a half stars)
After exploring mostly broody ambient synth music over the course of four albums, usually by smothering indistinct melancholic mumblings with mounds of fuzz, Anthony Gonzalez aka M83 has pulled together a delightfully breezy shoe gazing record. Though he still refuses to leave the Eighties sound banks alone, in Saturdays = Youth Gonzalez has given us his most accessible and cohesive work to date. And that’s perhaps because the eleven songs here are tied together by the musician’s obsession with his adolescent years (a theme previously touched upon in the modestly successful ”˜Teen Angst’ from 2005’s Before The Dawn Heals Us). Besides going after that Tears For Fears vibe, Gonzalez says he also looked up the teen films of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles) to help him get in touch with his growing-up days. Above all, though, there’s little doubt that this pleasant turn for the man from Antibes owes no small favour to the few rungs he has climbed up the levity ladder since releasing Digital Shades Volume 1 last year. The result is most resoundingly epitomised in ”˜Kim & Jessie,’ which comes in to save the day after a typically blue and plodding opener. As good an anthem for the disaffected as any, this celebration of youthful self-deception seems to sustain forever on an endlessly overflowing reservoir of reverb-drenched hooks, leaving your cranium echoing for weeks with the words “Somebody lurks in the shadows/Somebody whispers”. Everything that comes after, is made that much lighter in the context of this song, especially the
standout “Skin of the Night” (a breath-like ballad with an instrumental break that cleverly evokes the soundtrack to just about any Eighties film being watched, perhaps, on screwy VHS), ”˜Couleurs’ (a hypnotic dreampop/disco instrumental) and ”˜Highway of Endless Dreams’ (a simple, cyclic chord progression with a fair bit of My Bloody Valentine in it). Despite the fact that S = Y comes to a close with a wordless two-chord eleven-minute dud called ”˜Midnight Souls Still Remain,’ it stands out as a refreshing break from the trends of the day.