M83‘s new album is the follow-up release after the highly successful Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. A cool electropop album for those who love the 1980s.
The French electronic act, M83 has met tremendous commercial success with their breakthrough album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Since its release, the band has scored two film soundtracks and performed at various venues globally.
M83 returns in 2016 with their latest record, Junk. This album notably features multiple guest appearances like Beck, Mai Lan (French pop singer), and Susanne Sundfør (Norwegian singer-songwriter). Furthermore, this album marks the first time without founding keyboardist Morgan Kibby, who left the group in 2015.
Musically, this album is more pop-oriented but maintains the shoegaze, ambient sounds established by M83 since Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts. However, fans may be disappointed to see the lack of conceptual tracks, as many songs on this album maintain a classical pop song structure. Conceptually, Junk revisits the tropes of 1980s pop culture with tracks like: “Go”, “Moon Crystal”, and “For the Kids”.
The greatest strength of this album is recreating the charm of this decade. For example, the song, “Atlantique Sud” captures the romanticism of 80s love ballads while “Moon Crystal” sounds like a catchy theme for a prime time sitcom on NBC.
Junk is an ode to the music that influenced Anthony Gonzalez, the frontman of M83. It brings nostalgia to those who grew up listening to new wave artists like A-Ha, Talking Heads, and Duran Duran but the aesthetic loses its appeal quite quickly. The biggest flaw of Junk is how it recycles many of the synths creating repetition with many of tracks on this record. There are plenty of interesting concepts, but M83 don’t seize the opportunity to enhance the music of this decade but rather mirror it.
Daft Punk released Random Access Memories in 2013, a bold album that modernized disco to a contemporary audience. Similarly, Kavinsky released Outrun the same year that reinterpreted retro game music and 80s action movie soundtracks to a dance audience.
Junk does pay a respectful homage to 1980s pop culture, but doesn’t reinvent the music of that decade. Instead it struggles to separate itself from the previously mentioned albums, but it still manages to have some identity. The guest features on this record are great, and each featured artist is never underutilized. In fact, the tracks with features are the most outstanding ones on this album.
M83 continue to explore the musical medium, but sometimes the band struggles to complete their ambitious goals successfully. Junk is a new chapter for M83, and it does shine when Anthony Gonzalez executes his idea perfectly.
Overall this record still delivers some promising potential, and it does feature some of the best work by M83 in years. Still there are some flaws, but for anyone who loves the cheesy, epic, and nostalgic tunes of the 1980s then Junk is worth your time.