With "Saturdays=Youth" M83's Anthony Gonzalez has attempted a painstakingly alchemical tribute to youth- all hedonism and hope and fearlessness and false beauty and impulse and love and sex. Saturday nights with no Sunday morning even in sight, to wit. With that mission statement, M83 is occasionally successful.
"Saturdays=Youth" is an album in thrall to the most epic of new wave, the most soaring of shoegazing and the most majestic of classic alternative music. Of fucking course it's pastiche - it sounds ten miles high with a size zero waist and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen. Gonzelez knows his pop history well, cribbing from the best; so sometimes the keyboards sound like ten Depeche Mode, the hooks are sweeter than six "Don't You Forget About Me's" or "Lips Like Sugar," the guitars shimmer like an army of Robin Guthries or Johnny Marrs and the vocals are sweet whispery nods to Liz Frasier or Tim Booth.
"Saturdays=Youth" is all melancholy, bittersweet swoons or punching the air fuck-yeah-we're-alive communal dancing. And what's wrong with that? Well the schtick wears thin after awhile. The period piece roleplaying starts to become a little too exhausting to keep up and the album starts feeling more like a Branford Marsalis-esque exercise in musical archivism. It's just a little too perfect. A little too (lips like) sugary sweet. Too big-budget movie It's like, I challenge you to stay awake through "Too Late" - too big. Or "Dark Moves of Love" where nothing really happens at all except for one big buzzing riff and insulin shock female vocals. Even (obvious touchstone) Depeche Mode inserted some dirt and grime and sweat and desperation into their songs. I don't feel/hear that in this album. You just want to leave the club, go home, listen to some Swans or rap - change it up. Everyone knows that the best part about going out is getting dressed and dolled up, anyway. The rest? Cotton candy letdowns.
- Matthew Moyer