M83 - Hurry Up We're Dreaming

Anthony Gonzalez has spent the better part of three years working on the grand, expansive double LP Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and it shows. The new M83 album sounds incredible, and it sounds incredible in the sort of way that lets you know real work went into every single synth-plink in the album’s 1.2 hours. Even in the odd moments when songs dissolve into fuzz as they end, that fuzz feels meticulously constructed; every sputter is in its right place. In interviews, Gonzalez has been saying that the album is basically every M83 album put together. And it’s true; you can hear bits of the digital shoegaze gleam of Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, the amber-tinted nostalgic hum of Saturdays=Youth, and, more than anything, the overblown synth-rock grandeur of Before The Dawn Heals Us. It’s a lot to take in.

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is one of those double albums that would fit onto a single CD, like Prince’s Sign ’O’ The Times. And like Sign ’O’ The Times, it feels huge enough that it deserves the double-album designation anyway; every early listen has revealed a few new tricks that I hadn’t noticed on previous spins. But this is where I stop comparing it to Sign ’O’ The Times, since Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming isn’t constructed as some grand generation-defining arc; one track doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the next. There’s a lot of variation here, from the psych-folk rush of “Year One, One UFO” to the crashing orchestral flourishes of “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea,” but these different moods and ideas don’t really build on one another. Instead, they serve as a series of pocket epics. I listened to the album on shuffle once by mistake, and I didn’t even notice until about halfway through. It made no impact whatsoever on my enjoyment of the thing.

Heard as a serious of isolated tracks, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming can be just amazing; certain moments absolutely sparkle. Zola Jesus wails through her part on “Intro,” and I wish she would’ve sung on the entire album. “Splendor,” all hushed harmonies and spare piano tones, works as a long, contented exhalation. “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire,” with its sampled little-kid nonsense and its happy synth-ripples, is just charming in the most twee way possible. Virtually every track on the album seems custom-built to make everything around you look way more spectacular while you’re listening to it on headphones. If you’re the type of person who goes jogging alongside canals at sunset, this album should make your life immeasurably better.

And yet, the whole thing never really adds up to more than a series of pretty sounds. Every M83 album feels something like that, of course, but Saturdays=Youth, easily my favorite of Gonzalez’s albums, introduced a sort of bittersweet emotional punch to his music that felt, to me, like a breakthrough. There’s no equivalent here to the sound-worlds of “Kim And Jessie” or “Graveyard Girl.” Morgan Kibby, the White Sea singer responsible for so many of that album’s greatest moments, is almost entirely absent here, and her presence is missed. Gonzalez himself does most of the singing on the album, and his kinda-thin voice doesn’t have anything like Kibby’s warmth. There’s not a single weak track on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, but it still feels like a small step backward from that album.

Still, it’s a deeply impressive piece of work. And when videos for these tracks start coming out, I’m fully expecting to have my mind blown. Any video director with half an imagination should be able to do amazing things with any song here.

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is out 10/18 on Mute.

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Comments (49)
  1. album of the year. thats not even out yet.

  2. I imagine this is going to wonders for my fall season.

  3. Agreed. Though I think it could have been trimmed down to a single album that would have been more impactful overall. Seems more like a follow up to Before The Dawn Heals Us than Saturdays=Youth. Wish there was more Midnight City on it.

  4. Yep… album of the year for me. It’s huge and gorgeous and everything I was hoping for. Yes, Morgan’s voice is slightly missed, but while there’s no ‘Kim and Jessie,’ or ‘Graveyard Girl,’ there is Intro, and Midnight City, and Reunion, and Claudia Lewis, and Steve McQueen, and OK Pal, and the amazingly bizarre song about frogs… and so on…

    Basically, there’s way too much to love here to start judging it by what it is ‘missing.’

  5. Walking in the campus in the fall listening to this is going to make my first year of college EXTREMELY enjoyable.

    • That’s kind of cute to read. I wish I was that age again. Hope your first year goes well and you not only just walk around campus while listening to M83 but also includes banging a lot of hot girls to “Midnight City.”

  6. “…with its sampled little-kid nonsense…”

    That’s one of my favorite parts about m83 !

    Still, he did say that a lot of people thought he would go brighter after “Saturdays=Youth” when in fact he’d be going darker. He also mentioned how he doesn’t want his records sounding the same so that’s why Morgan is absent.

    I hope he goes on tour with an orchestra or some 30-person band. Pull a Spiritualized.

  7. When the huge instrumental chorus thing kicks in on My Tears are Becoming a Sea, i feel like my whole body is about to explode. As vague as that sounds, its the only way i can explain it.

  8. I feel like the whole album he’s trying to say “Hey guys look I can sing now! Listen!” and he does that weird Kings of Leon wounded yelp too many times. I preferred his older, more subdued style of vocals.

    Also, the ambient interludes are a little overdone as well and a lot of them sound similar and try too hard to be “epic”. They could have been part of other songs, or left off the record entirely and it wouldn’t have been a problem. I agree with Jon Fox above– this would have been an incredible single album. I can’t see anyone saying “Oh man, ‘Train to Pluton’ is my fav M83 song ever. Totes amazeballs.” Well, I could see people saying that, but those are people I really dislike.

    With all that said, there are many, many amazing songs on this thing. Midnight City obviously, but also Steve McQueen, New Map, Splendor, Intro, Reunion…all fantastic.

    • I agree with you on the vocals. I like the subtle, hushed vocal delivery; I think it complements his music so well. Not to say that the vocals on Hurry Up are bad, it’s just different, and it might take a few more listens to get used to.

  9. is “Outro” supposed to be cut off like that? the version I have ends abruptly and is 2:59 long.

  10. Hurry Up, I’m Creaming.

    (It’s pretty good.)

  11. I have only heard the first half so far and I’m digging it. “Reunion” is splendid. “Wait” sounds almost too reminiscient of Coldplay’s “The Scientist”. I sort of love the irony of that though.

  12. excellent albym

  13. “Steve McQueen” to thread. Truly an epic track.

  14. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • yes, mom.

      But seriously, as soon as I see if Mute is going to offer some cool pre-order bonuses or not, I’m all over this.

    • Yep. Just like I paid to download “Midnight City” from iTunes when it was available in order to get a higher quality MP3, I will plunk down my cash on release day to get the cds of the album which I can than rip and enjoy at whatever bit rate I choose.

    • Without a doubt. I bought Born This Way so…if I don’t buy this I should probably just shoot myself.

  15. i’m definitely in the camp that finds a better edit down to one disc would have made this such an incredible epic work. the interludes seem to be all from the same larger piece (perhaps if one mixed them all together, it would be Digital Shades Volume 2!).

  16. I’m not sure what’s more awesome, Steve McQueen the actor or Steve McQueen the song.

  17. definitely my favorite album of the year so far. Probably gonna buy it on vinyl. kinda reminds me of the police (actually, really reminds me of the police) in a really good way

  18. Sign O’ The Times is sixteen seconds shy of eighty minutes. The technology of the time could not fit that much music on a single CD. It was also released at the tail end of the vinyl era so there really is no comparison.
    People releasing music on two discs when it could fit on one is a fucking joke in this day and age, especially considering the majority of us are going to listen to it digitally anyways. I’m fucking tired of of these annoying publicity stunts. Joanna Newsom, I’m looking at you.

    • I’m confused as to why Joanna Newsom was brought up. Are you suggesting that Have One On Me could have fit on 1 cd? Are you complaining about too much music.

      All possibilities lead to you being an ass, which is cool with me I guess.

    • Is anyone really surprised a double LP from basically only one guys isn’t hitting for the highest average of hits / total songs? I don’t see why it’s a problem though. I’d rather my favorite bands incude more songs and I’ll weed out the ones I don’t like.

    • Well it’s pretty clear that Outro is cut short. And in the past, he’s had 11-15 minute outro songs. So, if it turns out there are like 10 minutes of the song missing, it wouldn’t fit on a single cd. Just saying.

  19. I have to admit that I’m not too keen on much of first disc, but the last five or six tracks on the second disc absolutely make the entire album for me. Bravo! Well done, Mr. Gonzalez.

  20. I haven’t read the review or comments yet. I think its a great album, one of the best Ive heard in a while.

  21. I want to grow lady parts and rape M83/Anthony Gonzalez so I can have his babies.

    On that note its my favorite album of the year thus far.

  22. As a diehard M83 fanboy, I have to say this album left me underwhelmed and disappointed. For the first time, it felt like Anthony fell into the “M83 Plays M83″ trap. “Echoes of Mine,” featured in that tantalizing YouTube teaser, actually include a French spoken-word sample that may as well have been lifted directly from their debut album. Some songs sound like sequels if not direct rehashes of previous songs–”Intro” evokes “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun,” “New Map” sounds like “Don’t Save Us from the Flames,” hell, “Claudia Lewis” just sounds like “Midnight City,” a song that blew my mind and revved my anticipation for this album into overdrive. And “Reunion” is the most unfortunate M83 track yet, a true letdown after the intergalactic space race feel of “City.” Straight out of the U2/Coldplay repertoire. Sigh.

    Anthony’s newly developed yelp worked well on “City,” but he employs it FAR too often throughout the album. Too reminiscent of Kele from Bloc Party (ugh). It feels like a reach toward a more generic, poppy sound, meant to win new legions of fans. His shy coo always juxtaposed so well against the bombastic electronic grandeur of previous albums. His touches of “epicness” or whatever fall a little flat, or never quite reach a new height. Make no mistake–this album is NOT “very, very, very epic,” as he ensured before its release. A wave of choral voices does not epic make. (Besides, everything is fucking “epic” these days, so it almost feels meaningless to guarantee that.)

    Songs that are really stripped down, like “Splendor,” reveal Anthony’s middling melodic sensibilities. I never suspected it, but his synth flourishes and deep sonic landscapes may have previously masked what were basic and not necessarily sophisticated song structures. And lyrics–boatloads of lyrics–do not jell with his instrumental strengths. “OK Pal,” “Midnight City,” and “Claudia Lewis” get the toes tapping, but never to the extent of the pulsating “Couleurs.” So many songs feel half-developed. Someone above referenced “Train to Pluton,” just one of a few songs that should have been either six minutes or thirty seconds. “Klaus I Love You” is awesome, and he just gives up on it. Why?

    Perhaps this will grow on me, but no other album ever had to. Each one held me from the first moment and never let go. On this one, my mind wanders in and out, and I’m too often reminded of the awesome tracks he has on his other works. As such a devoted fan, I feel my connection with him has slipped from my grasp, lost to Rolling Stone write-ups and maybe, eventually, the Billboard charts. I don’t ascribe to the idea that an artist can go big only by “selling out,” and I don’t consider this a sell-out, but I am saddened that it will take his most mediocre effort to earn a wider audience.

    • Thanks for trying your hand at music journalism. Do it somewhere else, though. So what if it sounds like an iPad commercial? It’s pleasant. How is that so damning? If that’s one of the most damning things you can say about a song then you lead a pretty PG existence. Come down off that high horse, Crinnigan.

      • writing long-winded write-ups on a music blog is a bit annoying, that’s a given. Want to know what else is annoying? Douche bags who lash out at people whose only real crime is perhaps being a bit too thorough with how they feel about a record. Give it a rest.

        And as much as his Ipad comment was a little ‘PG’, your justification of a song’s merit based on whether or not it’s “pleasant” is no less so.

      • Now that I know where to find the alternative, can someone direct me to where the intelligent music discussion happens?

        And if you can’t understand why sounding like an iPad commercial is a problem, I’ve got a studio in Lincoln Park full of Killers records to sell you.

  23. Oh, and though it is cute and fun, “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” sounds like it was written to be in an iPad commercial, which is one of the most damning things I could say about a song.

  24. Every single sound, feeling, yelp, note, crash, and vocal part on this album was clearly well thought out and perfectly crafted. This albums is not Anthony “selling out.” This is him putting all the different feelings, attitudes and styles from his previous releases into one amazing album. This album does appear to a wider audience than some of his previous releases, but you have to ask, does that really make the album worse? I don’t think so. I’ve listened to it about 10 times in the past few days and each time I notice some new detail that I missed before. Whether it be a new drum fill, synth line or atmospheric glimmer, this thing is as dense and deep as a Sigur Rós album, with a bit of Mogwai’s epic-ness, and just a dash of relaxing, Washed Out-style chillwave. His vocals have seriously progressed from other works, and really shine through on this album. I think this album has a lot of emotion and replay value. I’ll be listening to this for years to come. Overall its a great release, my favorite so far this year, and definitely my favorite m83 album.

    • your response sounds like it was taken straight out of my brain… have been listening to this non-stop as well and absolutely love it. I can see how some people are resistant to Gonzalez’s singing, as it’s a big depature from previous M83 albums, but I really like how it meshes with the songs. He might not be a technically great singer, but the passion and melody are really there. And m83 was never about the vocals, anyway.

      I’m not a huge fan of Saturdays = Youth, so this new direction feels really good to me. Can’t wait to see what they do in the future!

  25. WHERE CAN I LISTEN TO IT? this article and the comments have me DYING to hear this NOW.

  26. I’m fairly new to M83, but this sounds incredible. some of those instrumentations sound like a synthier Sigur Ros, at least reminded me anyway. otherwise, this is completely unlike anything I’ve ever heard

  27. Here’s my take:
    “Synth giant M83 (aka Anthony Gonzalez) has released a strong contender for album of the year.”
    http://ludditestereo.net/2011/10/15/hurry-up-were-dreaming-m83-album-review/

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