M83 - DSVII
Some artists are infinitely frustrating, and for a variety of reasons. They don't put out enough stuff, they put out too much stuff, they're not making the music I fell in love with or they've stayed the exact same for too long. The list can go on and on. In a sense, it's not really fair, this is someone's personal expression and they should be allowed to put it out however they see fit. However if they want to get paid for it, they still need to make sure it's something their fans will actually like. It's a constant push pull and once that M83's Anthony Gonzalez. Saturday=Youth and Hurry Up, We're Dreaming were undeniable records records. Their syth-pop style came just at the right time and positioned Gonzalez into major stardom. He headlined festivals and created this juggernaut that was in countless movies and constantly on TV. His follow up record Junk however was pretty widely disliked. It showed Gonzalez going in a completely new direction trying to find great music through almost jingle like songs. He was clearly pretty shook that people didn't like it and it caused a great deal of artistic turmoil. It has taken three years for M83 to come back, and instead of trying to replicate his two most successful albums He again shifts back to something old yet new. This new album DSVII follows some of his earlier synth only work. It plays out like a video game soundtrack, just done at an extremely high level. It's a foray into soundscape and exploration rather emotional music that pulls at your heart strings.
In a way this is a pretty wild album to attempt, going from making pop songs to songs that could not be further away. The thing is though for Gonzalez this really is the safe move. He doesn't have to deal with the pressure of a follow up, or the expectations of this album being something different than it is. Yet there is still this sense throughout the album that he is holding something back, maybe even a little afraid to fully let loose. There are moments where it feels like a song is going to take an edgy turn like on "Lunar Son" but then it just ends up repeating this sort of twee electronic stuff. "Oh Yes You're There, Everyday" is similar building this tension through super high pitched tones, but eventually feeling like little else than a boss level game screen. It would be awesome if this was expansive and earth shifting, which in moments it is, but so much of the album is just the playing on long notes. You miss so much of the spirit even if everything sounds pretty good. Gonzalez is allowed to be himself and do anything He wants, but it doesn't mean that everyone has to like it. M83 seems to really feel what people think of his art, for better or worse.
6.9 out of 10