In the tradition of French electronic duos Daft Punk and Justice, M83 have established themselves as a leading creative force within the scope of modern electronic music. Unlike their club-thumping peers, however, the sound cultivated by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau explored a wider variety of genres, blending synthpop and shoegaze into a uniquely ambient amalgam. Following the critical acclaim received for the group’s previous releases including Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, Nicolas Fromageau departed the group citing creative differences and left Gonzalez to complete the third M83 album, Before the Dawn Heals Us. With this in mind, Saturdays=Youth appears, musically, to be the logical progression in Gonzalez’s “solo” career.
Saturdays=Youth certainly draws influence from an expansive musical milieu, fashioning a textural sonic experience for the casual listener. Echoes of shoegaze luminaries Slowdive and Cocteau Twins lend an intricately layered sound to the final track “Midnight Souls Still Remain,” slowly building to a climactic crescendo of noise. The reverberating lyrics of Lush and the glamorous synthesizers of Duran Duran circa Rio resonate on “We Own the Sky.” “Graveyard Girl” invites comparisons to New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies with its soaring guitar work and layered synth leads, while “Kim & Jessie” sounds as if Avalon-era Roxy Music provided the score to John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles.
Although Saturdays=Youth is by no means the strongest M83 release to date, Gonzalez’s efforts should not be overlooked. The overall result is a cinematic work: As a wistfully nostalgic album, Saturdays=Youth provides the perfect soundtrack to the ’80s movie of our lives.