When Anthony Gonzalez, also known as M83, promised to release an album that he described as “very, very, very epic” earlier this year, he was setting the bar especially high. After all, critics had used the term to describe all five of M83’s previous albums’ glorious electro dream pop. But Gonzalez manages to deliver on his promise, making Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming the best M83 album to date, and a huge one at that, clocking in at 22 tracks on two separate discs.
Despite its daunting length, Dreaming is remarkably easy to work through in one sitting. Gonzalez once again creates a dream world through synthesized instrumentals and often unintelligible lyrics that delve into themes of melancholia and nostalgia. The often quiet vocals, surrounded by saxophone riffs, keyboard solos, and a plethora of guitar chords, are punctuated by one-minute instrumental tracks such as “Train to Pluton” and “Fountains” that are designed to carry the listener through the fantasy world of Dreaming.
These intermissions, however, do become tiring after repeated individual listens. Instead of a collection of individual songs, the new LP is designed as a single cohesive work. From the cover image to the fantasies of tracks like “Raconte-Moi Histoire,” Dreaming must be consumed all at once.
The album’s intro features a cameo appearance by Zola Jesus, who adds a certain amount of legitimacy and excitement to the LP. “Midnight City” picks up the pace with its high-pitched synthesized sounds and steady drum beat, ultimately ending in a fading saxophone solo. “Where the Boats Go,” the first instrumental interlude, leads to the slower and less-pronounced period. The melancholia of the high-pitched chorus of “Wait” soon gives way to yet another collection of driving drum beats featured in “Claudia Lewis.”
The wave-like changing styles of Dreaming finally settle at the beginning of the second disc with the excitement of “New Map,” an excitement that flows through the remainder of the album until the slightly suppressed yet bold “Outro.”
This boldness is perhaps the most important defining factor of the album. The fantasy world created by the massive LP demonstrates Gonzalez’s appropriate confidence in his growth as a true musical artist. Despite the tiresome intermissions, Dreaming as a whole lives up to its epic expectations.