Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Oct 17, 2011 Web Exclusive
For some, the needle of inspiration seems to be dropped in a particular era of their lives. Like filmmaker John Hughes, or author Maurice Sendak before him, 30-year-old Anthony Gonzalez seems perpetually obsessed with his childhood. For his sixth full-length, the French musician (with help from producer/Beck bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen) returned to the fertile fields that inspired his 2008 breakthrough, Saturdays=Youth. The result is a 22-track, double album of stunningly ambitious, synth-soaked dreams.
A call to arms, opening track “Intro” features the ghostly wail of Zola Jesus (Nika Roza Danilova)—paired alongside swelling feedback and Gonzalez’s own yearning howl. Almost as if to mark the intimacy of the project, Gonzalez claims most of the vocal tracks for his own, displaying a surprisingly agile range alongside Danilova and Saturdays=Youth vocalist Morgan Kibby.
Ostensibly divided into two halves à la The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (a major inspiration), Gonzalez frontloaded the album with pop-structured pieces. Among these standouts is single “Midnight City,” a kissing cousin to Saturdays=Youth’s “Kim & Jessie,” featuring a circular, squeaky synth riff, Gonzalez’s vocals (here a paper-thin whisper), and the best saxophone riff that 1985 has to offer. The sentimental pull of “Wait” is obvious, featuring Gonzalez’s echo-encrusted vocals over an acoustic refrain—but the sugarcoated narrative of “Raconte-Moi Une Historie” (“Tell Me a Story”)—where a young boy recounts a world of frogs and friendship, may actually make listeners feel a tug for their long-forgotten childhoods.
The second half of the double album delves into Gonzalez’s more experimental side, focusing on orchestral elements (often composed of real orchestras), and alternating heavy layers of synths (a trope longtime fans will recognize from earlier albums) with simple piano lines. Opening with the slow building swells of “My Tears Are Becoming a Sea,” Gonzalez charts a cinemascope-worthy course, pairing longer, more intense, compositions with shorter connecter pieces (several clocking in at under two minutes). It’s a through line that carries straight to the appropriately named “Outro”—where Gonzalez finishes off the album in the same spirit he opened it—surrounded by an oversized blaze of electro glory. A remarkable accomplishment. (www.ilovem83.com)
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