Plain big is not so hard to pull off. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”, Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park”, Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine”…rock history is landmarked with preposterously massive songs that are often bloated and overwrought, songs that stand as giant signposts to feeling, but communicate little actual emotion. Grand-scale songs may be impressive, but filling tunes of a synapse short-circuiting enormity with real emotional resonance – making them memorable for reasons other than size – is much more difficult.
It’s a talent Anthony Gonzalez has clearly mastered with ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’, a double album that brokers a brilliantly effective accord between the ostensibly conflicting demands of ’80s commercial pop and experimental rock, and packs some truly giant tunes. The Antibes native has been steadily working to perfect the art of the megalithic alt.pop song since founding M83 in 2001. His self-titled debut from that year and sophomore release two years later, ‘Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts’ established him as a heavy hitter in the post-rock/bliss pop/cosmic electronica league, a skilled producer of hazy, lusciously layered, irresistibly narcotized, epic dreamscapes crafted (essentially solo) from treated electronics, plush synths, murmured vocals and fx-heavy guitar. Third album, ‘Before the Dawn Heals Us’ (2005) upped the cinematic, star-spangled ante but added a dark strangeness, while in 2007 M83 released the entirely ambient ‘Digital Shades Vol 1’. It was 2008’s ‘Saturdays = Youth’, a nostalgia-soaked paean to Gonzalez’s teenage years – and an unashamed celebration of artists such as Kate Bush and Jean-Michel Jarre – that paved the way for the monumental ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’...
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