When Nostalgia Gets Old
M83’s newest record Junk is one of ordinality and nostalgia. It is not a particularly inventive album nor is it a radical change from the band’s previous releases, but what is nice, is its simplicity and predictability. The one area where it falters, however, is its desire to sound nostalgic. It exhausts the idea of sentimentality to excess and leaves the listener weary of all the saxophone solos and echoing vocals.
The album begins with “Do It, Try It,” a song with a bass line similar to that of the one on Seinfeld and deep, manipulated vocals. It then transitions to “Go,” where it counts down from eight before bursting into the chorus, “I loved, I loved, I fell, I fell/Ran away, ran away, ran away, ran away.” Despite its lack of lyrical depth, it is a song that would stimulate even the most reserved listener to nod along in approval.
Of all the songs, however, the one that stands out as the most surprising is “For the Kids.” It sounds more like it was plucked straight from a movie from the 1980s complete with leg warmers and the visual of a broken hearted Molly Ringwald walking despondently down a suburban street. While the album sounds like it would fit perfectly in any John Hughes movie it still retains the sound of modernity. It has the distinction of making it sound like it was recorded during the 1980s, while the other songs appear to be more nostalgic for that time.
Where Junk wavers and the listener begins to grow fatigued is around the third song “Bibi the Dog,” featuring the French singer Mai Lan. What certainly is an interesting and engaging song, instead transforms into a dread that this album is going to remain steadfastly in the 1980s. Instead of transitioning from one decade to the next or adding some ounce of diversity, M83 finds their comfort in a time laden with synthesizers and over the top keytar solos.
It should be applauded that M83 was able to execute a record that appears to be a salute to a time that has come and gone. Unfortunately, the heavy nostalgia theme eventually erodes at the core of the album and at some points moves the listener to insanity. If anything, Junk should be listened to and enjoyed for a handful of songs and when the fun, danceable tracks have finally drawn to their close, quietly turn the record off and explore the other music in their discography