I Wish I Had Dreams Like This: A Look at M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
by Charissa Lock 11/03/2011
M83’s latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, is my first experience with this band, which is ten years too late when realizing how long they have been creating music. And when I say “they” I really mean “he” – Anthony Gonzalez is the brains behind this musical reverie. After separating from his music partner after their second album together, Gonzalez now runs the show with production help from brother Yann Gonzalez, Loic Maurin’s drumming expertise and with the keyboardist and vocalist addition of Morgan Kibby. For M83 fans, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, is a long awaited release, three years after their last album Saturdays = Youth.
An unseasonably snowy Saturday night in New England was the backdrop for my introduction to M83. I was not sure what to expect, but it resulted in quite an experience. My first reaction was comparing it to other electronic bands like MGMT and Hooray for Earth. However, this comparison slowly faded since I realized that this is on a different level. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is spiritual and more about the complete artistry rather than the specific instruments all making imperative parts to create a whole. I also feel that it is entirely experience-based and whatever background you bring to this experience will give it an entirely different feel. I questioned to myself that if I was not in a good place in my life, would I find this album dark and eerie? Because I am happy with who I am and all that good stuff, the feelings I get from this album are uplifting reflections on the bigger scheme of things in this world, not a depressing outlook on the death, hatred, and greed.
Each song off of this album seems to be related to a moment of revelation; whether right before, during, or after. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a positive revelation either, just because I’m all in good spirits certainly does not mean that those who are in a more somber state cannot make a connection with a more negative revelation. Whatever is being revealed to you is organic; it is way more than just buying new shoes and hanging out with friends. After listening to the entire album, you basically want to put it on repeat and stand on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean.
The few tracks that stand out to me are the “Intro,” which is the first song on the album (shocked, I know). It is the epitome of an introduction, with the instrumentation and vocals constantly rising and becoming more intense, giving the listener an idea that the rest of the songs on this album will be pulled from somewhere across this ascension.
Surprisingly (and I’ll tell you why I say this in a moment), another one that stands out is “Raconte-moi une histoire.” I normally cannot stand children singing/talking in songs (Tally Hall’s “Spring and a Storm” is kind of the maximum). Nothing against children, heck I work with them for a living, but it usually seems unnecessary and lame. However, “Raconte” is different because it chooses them for multiple reasons. One is because after researching the English translation I found that “Raconte-moi une histoire” is the title of a children’s magazine that would also come with a cassette version of stories (fables, fairy tales, etc.). So having a child do the story telling for this song is reasonable in that sense. Also, the entire feel of the song is very imaginative and innocent – why not have a child narrate the story. This track is very universal in this way, bringing fables to electronic indie pop with the innocence and sincerity of a child.
“Claudia Lewis,” is another great one. It is much louder and upbeat than some of the other tracks, with an 80’s feel (“more cowbell!”) and Paul Simon-esque bass to complete the picture. I think this song is really fun and still able to stick to that astronomically spiritual sound. I tend to pick up on all the tracks you can tap your foot to because “OK Pal,” is another favorite of mine along with “Year One, One UFO.” And the more I continue to listen to this album, the more I will keep adding favorites.
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming comes full circle with an “Outro,” which I feel is necessary on an album where everything (all twenty-two tracks) is a part of its bigger self. I re-listened to the album on a bright, crisp Fall day (the day after the snowy one – remember, I’m in New England) and it held the same feelings of realization and universal connection that it did the dark and stormy night before. As I previously stated, I think this album is so personal it can be used as foundation for looking at life as a whole and your reaction to it will be based on what baggage you have brought with you.
After quite a few listens, due to the fact I couldn’t get enough of it, I was recommended to check out the lyrics. Upon doing so, I came upon two important aspects of this album. The first is that there were so many songs labeled “instrumental” that I was in disbelief. I tend not to listen to instrumental music because it doesn’t do much for me (vocals are a huge part of my love for music). However, and this is a big however, I absolutely never thought of this album as having instrumental songs on it. How? I have no idea. I’m not going to try to pick out which ones are and which aren’t, because I don’t want to ruin the experience for myself. I am just going to relish in the fact that an artist was able to create instrumental music that I not only like, but had no idea it was instrumental. Go, Gonzalez! The second moment of epiphany from reading the lyrics (of those I could find and that were not instrumental, of course) I realized how beautiful they were. With the theme being dream-based, or at least being in the dreamlike state, the words reflect a poetic ambiance that is able to capture the dreaming world (technically I wouldn’t know anything about this since all of my dreams are strange representations of reality and never whimsically flying in space and becoming one with the universe…so jealous).
With the idea of fluidity and connection being so evident in the music that passionate, thought-provoking lyrics complete the final piece and they flow right along together from the “Intro” to the “Outro” in the journey through Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.