I have often had a love-hate relationship with M83. While the band, led by Anthony Gonzalez, has produced some really invigorating electronic music, I have felt that when they achieved commercial success with 2011’s double-release Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, the band’s overall quality dipped a little bit, despite releasing many great tracks like ‘Midnight City’ and ‘Outro.’ Needless to say, I went into Junk hoping the band could rediscover the spark they had with their earlier records.
With Junk, Gonzalez and company have (along with upping production standards) successfully crafted a record that harks back to the colourful electronic dance sounds of the 70s and 80s. If it was released thirty years ago, it would fit perfectly into the music of that time. This is a record heavy on synthesizers, piano, sweaty saxophone solos and electronic jazz.
The big highlights of this record include the single ‘Do It, Try It’ that captures the colourful eighties electronic sound, the reflective track ‘For the Kids’, with Susanne Sundfør delivering a mesmerising vocal performance, and my personal favourite ‘Road Blaster’, a swaggering dance beat track with a killer saxophone hook.
M83 have really worked hard to replicate the eighties sound; but with that the music sounds occasionally overproduced. (And, if you wanted to find the sound of seventies and eighties electronic bands, go buy records from those bands! They’re much more memorable). In terms of songwriting quality, many of the tracks suffer from a lack of direction, much like Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
This record also has many guest singers who don’t really bring a lot to the table (even Beck, who I didn’t even realise was on this record until I looked at the writing credits), which means many of the fifteen tracks lack punch. It may sound nice to listen to these songs while you are in the moment, but Junk really suffers from a case of style-over-substance, failing to leave an impression on the listener by albums end.
You know there’s a problem when you finish the record and you cannot remember what you just listened to. Overall, M83’s efforts here are undermined by many of the same problems they had on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. In that, while there is a great overall sound and a few compelling tunes here and there; the rest of the record is… well… junk.
M83- 'Do It, Try It'
M83- 'Road Blaster'