Album Review: M83 – Junk

By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor

[Naïve, 2016]

Rating: 5.5/10

Key Tracks: “Do It, Try It,” “Go!,” “Solitude”

2011 was a great year for French electronic act M83. Since the release of the double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and the breakout hit “Midnight City,” indie fans and music blogs alike haven’t shut up about the eventual day M83 would drop new material (excluding the Oblivion soundtrack that came out in 2013). Now, five years later, Anthony Gonzalez and company have come back with Junk, the band’s most pop-influenced record yet. As fun and catchy as it can be, Junk feels really underwhelming when comparing it to the dreamy sound through which M83 rose to fame.

The most memorable parts of Junk are songs like “Do It, Try It,” “Go!” and “Laser Gun” that go all-in on the sugary pop sound. These songs are all really well produced and texturally pleasing, with every synth and vocal effect sounding perfect together. There are also plenty of tracks like “Walkway Blues” and “Solitude” that use live saxophones and strings, which is a really interesting aspect of the album listeners won’t forget.

While there are some great moments, Junk tends to spend too much time focusing on slow ballads throughout its runtime. Songs like “For The Kids,” “Atlantique Sud” and “Sunday Night 1987” become mood killers on the album, immediately and unexpectedly stopping the synth-pop fun that helped give the album an identity. A lot of thought and care was obviously put into the slower tracks, but for some reason they always feel too timid and dull in terms of execution.

As a whole, Junk is fun, but it never truly feels like an M83 record. The band has gained a spacey pop sound, but has lost the emotional dreamy rock aesthetic they’re loved for — making Junk as disappointing as it is catchy. It’s an album that will most definitely be loved by many, but die-hard fans of M83 might be confused at the band’s pop direction.

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