M83 Saturdays = Youth

M83 Saturdays = Youth
Last year’s ambient compilation Digital Shades, Vol. 1 found Mr. M83 (Anthony Gonzalez) exploring new corners of his palette and playing with texture and feel. On the varied Saturdays = Youth, Gonzalez reverts back to the broad, emphatic brushstrokes we know. The straight-up pop songs are the least interesting — there’s a stale whiff of contemporary electro riffery on "Graveyard Girl” that he would have done best to avoid. Much more compelling is low-key single "Couleurs,” which throbs towards a gooey climax that’s wonderfully drawn out. But the strongest work here is a product of Gonzalez indulging his utterly un-ironic love for Kate Bush-referencing ’80s synth pop. Tracks like "Skin Of The Night” and "Up!” stand out immediately, courtesy of the massive drum machine beats, mozzarella synths and breathy female vocals. As a listener, it’s liable to give you pause — are you really digging the high drama of these sweeping passages or have you already relegated them to kitsch status, to be enjoyed at arm’s length? Gonzalez clearly isn’t reminiscing idly; he’s presented an impressive interpretation of his affinity for ’80s histrionics with poised awareness and his recognisable nocturnal stamp. (Mute)