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    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    We are right to fall

    After the strange revelation that was Before the Dawn Heals Us, it was tough to imagine how Anthony Gonzalez would follow it up. With Saturdays=Youth appearing on the horizon, we now have our answer: stick to the same template. The glacial synths, the weird semi-homages to mid-career Kate Bush, cryptic spoken interludes, instrumentation with one foot in the '80s and another in a parallel-world future, moods that vacillate between somber and astral. If it's mildly disappointing that the new album is so faithful to its predecessor, that deflation doesn't last long. No, this album is too affecting, too idiosyncratic, and too alien to dismiss or ignore. In this still young year, it's probably the most full-on beautiful work I've heard so far.

    "Too Late" is one of the stronger tracks, this album's answer to "Farewell/Goodbye." The piano intro is simple yet chilling, especially after all the intricate effects that precede it. It sets the tone for a song that approximates drifting through space, past asteroid showers and warm solar flares. Its first lyrics are potentially silly, with lines that wouldn't be out of place on a Savage Garden single: "I look into your eyes, diving into the ocean/ I look into your eyes, falling." (The misplaced modifier suggesting eyes doing an armstand forward somersault pike makes it even funnier.) But the trippy reverb and bare-heart sincerity mostly steady that misstep.

    More successful are the next lines though, which posit, "Like a wall of stars, we are right to fall." (Or at least that's what I think they're saying. I've alternately heard "world," "whirl," and "well" for "wall," and "ripe" for "right.") Surreal and vague, it's a sentiment that encapsulates everything I love about M83. Every time I feel like I'm getting closer to grasping it, it dematerializes and floats away from me. It seems to inhabit a world built around its own heady logic, where stars have tangible geometries and humans are tied to the skies. It's what makes "Too Late," like almost all of Saturdays=Youth, such an eerie but inviting riddle. It's why, rather than dwelling on its few minor drawbacks, I'd rather keep revisiting its singular cosmos again and again.

    * MP3: "Too Late" - M83 from Saturdays=Youth [Preorder it]

    Comments on "We are right to fall"


    Blogger Chaplin Brown said ... (12:38 AM) : 

    "....And if you are a ghost, I'll call your name. "

    What a great review of this song, excellent wordage, absolutely beautiful song. This is the strongest, most moving and effective albums I have heard in a while.

    Song to song, this album is gorgeous.


    Anonymous www.santa-cruz-3d.com said ... (2:47 AM) : 

    It won't truly have success, I believe so.


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