M83's Double Standard
Published Oct 24, 2011As an impressionable teenager, Anthony Gonzalez dreamed of making a double album once he heard Smashing Pumpkins' Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Seduced by its sonic diversity, illusory artwork and epic exploration of "the human condition of mortal sorrow," Gonzalez holds the Pumpkins' third album responsible for inspiring him to attempt one as M83.
"When I was a teenager I fell in love with both the music and object," he recalls. "I would hold the CD in my hand and read all of the lyrics while listening to that album over and over. For me it was a discovery and I want younger generations to experience what I got from the Smashing Pumpkins double album."
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming came to Gonzalez while he was extensively touring his last record, 2008's Saturdays=Youth. As much as he'd wanted to do it, he knew he'd need to avoid the pitfalls that often mar such an ambitious endeavour. "For me it was almost dangerous making one because you can easily bore the listener," he says. "I wanted to make a very eclectic album but also something not too long. Making a double album was a dream of mine for a long, long time and I felt ready to make this move."
Gonzalez has evolved M83 into something different from album to album, yet with two individual sides, he decided to push the envelope. He states Hurry Up was "written like a soundtrack to an imaginary movie with different ambiences, different atmospheres, different tempos, different orchestrations and different instrumentation." And so, with every track that feels warm and familiar, there are slick, beefed up slices of '80s cheese pop in "Ok Pal" and "Claudia Lewis," a handful of stadium-ready anthems like "Reunion" and "Steve McQueen," and most curious of all, "Raconte-Moi Une Histoire," a jumpy sound collage featuring a young girl narrating a deeply surreal tale about transforming into a magical frog.
"I feel like the more I grow up, the more I make albums, I can experiment and make different music," he says. "Every time I have an idea I try to make it happen. It makes sense for me to go that way. I'm curious and I don't want to have any regrets in ten or 20 years."
At 74 minutes, Gonzalez says that Hurry Up didn't have to be packaged as a double album ― the running time is only 11 minutes longer than Saturdays=Youth. However, he felt that it was important to feature two distinct sides. "The whole concept of this album is about twins [as seen on the cover]," he explains. "Each side of the album represents the dream of the two kids, and somehow these dreams are connected. What I like about this album, and music in general, is that my vision will be different from someone else's listening to it."
Despite the heavy-handedness of its concept, Hurry Up is built from the same deep-rooted nostalgia and sense of longing for his salad days, much like the five other M83 albums. "When I make an album it's always about nostalgia, melancholy in the past and memories," Gonzalez explains. "This is a part of myself. I will never make something ultra modern that will sound great on the radio. I just wanted to make an album I'd remember all my life and be proud of 20, 30 years from now."