I first encountered M83 via their previous effort, 2009’s Saturdays=Youth. That album’s lush, dreamy soundscapes drenched in echoes of the 1980s was a sublime masterpiece, and one of my top picks for 2009. I was thus understandably excited when the band announced the follow up, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. However, I admit that when the band announced that it would be a double album, I grew skeptical.
It’s not that double albums are inherently bad, but they are inherently ambitious. Generally, I also question the impulse in 2011. The advent of the 80 minute capacity of compact discs opened the floodgates to an entire generation of musicians and producers who lack the art of brevity. There’s much to be said for the 3 minute pop song, the 45 minute LP, the 85 minute film, etc. Far too often, we get copious amounts of content simply because today’s storage media have the capability. As much as I loved Saturdays=Youth, I wasn’t sure that M83 could make a consistently compelling double album.
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming hit shelves last week. Is it an epic masterpiece, or a bloated album that outstays its welcome?
The answer is neither.
Across these two discs (which actually only come in at 70 minutes), there are some amazing cuts that push the band into poppier territory (“Midnight City,” “OK Pal”). Interspersed with these pop nuggets are compositions exhibiting the band’s trademark – reverb-laden, retro, shoegazing synthscapes. The problem is, Hurry Up really only operates within these two gears. Which isn’t to say that the execution of these songs is poor. But the album as a whole is samey, and as such a bit of a chore to get through. A better way to put it might be that the album is a long journey that doesn’t really go anywhere. The shame of it is that some truly excellent songs get lost in the shuffle. Were the album whittled down to a single disc affair, these songs (and the album as a whole) would shine significantly brighter.
Check out the video for the album’s excellent single, “Midnight City”: