Published Apr 06, 2016The seventh studio album from M83 might come as a great shock to fans that fell in love with their last few albums of dream-pop — and that's the idea. M83 leader Anthony Gonzalez has admitted that the goal of the album was to "unsettle" the listener and take them on a new journey. Junk achieves that almost immediately.
First single and album opener "Do It, Try It" was a startling introduction, with palpable house influence and a slap bass that never quits, but Junk just gets weirder and weirder from there. The pensive "Go!" features French singer Mai Lan and half a dozen crescendos, not to mention a gaudy solo by guitar god Steve Vai. "Bibi the Dog" is perhaps the most '80s-indebted thing he's ever done, using deep bass tones and robotic alien vocals, but then come the imaginary TV theme songs, "Moon Crystal" and the Susanne Sundfør-assisted "For the Kids," two soft-focus pieces of schmaltz that came 30 years too late.
Anyone expecting to find a thread that connects Junk to 2011's massive Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will be out of luck. Gonzalez has moved beyond epic, cinematic shoegazing to a retro pastiche that's also irrefutably fun. The fizzy "Road Blaster" might have the most commercial appeal, with its coursing rock structure and blazing horns, but the chirpy "Laser Gun," which descends into a double-dutch chant, gives it a run for its money. Then there's "Time Wind," a leisurely, disco-pop jaunt featuring Beck that could also find a home on whatever album the Morning Phase singer releases next.
With Junk, Gonzalez has taken M83 into a whole new galaxy that is just as ambitious and starry-eyed as everything that came before it. The only question is if fans will follow him on this journey; it's a good couple thousand light years away from "Midnight City." (Mute)