Review: M83, “Junk” (2016)


Credit: Consequence of Sound

From shoe-gazing synth-scapes to John Hughes High School romance, French Synth-pop band M83 return with their best album yet, Junk – a collection of songs dressed in their best 80’s outfits.

The first song I ever heard from M83 was the song ‘Kim and Jessie’ from Saturdays = Youth. I think that song was on repeat for an entire afternoon. It gave me that same feeling I had when I watched the classic film, The Breakfast Club. I then went backwards in their discography and got lost in the beautiful synth-scapes of Before The Dawn Heals Us. We then got the double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming which seemed to be a conglomeration of all that they’d done – a mixture of their strongest (and weakest) material to date. Now, a few soundtracks later (including the pretty decent song Oblivion from well, Oblivion), they finally return with Junk: arguably their best and catchiest album yet.

The album opens with ‘Do it, Try it,‘ the first single from the album. It’s a fun song, opening with really tacky keyboards. “A dance on repeat/A trance on a hard beat” goes the chorus and indeed, the song ends with a trancing hard beat – pump it up. The following track, ‘Go!,’ really kicks off the fun with a super catchy chorus and epic guitar solo by none other than Steve Vai. Having fun yet? Then you’ll love the rapturous Blondie vibes of ‘Bibi the Dog’ and ‘Laser Gun’.

The Elton John/John Lennon/Olivia Newton John/Pink Floyd invoked, ‘For the Kids,’ is a song that joins the ranks of the ‘I’ll be there for you/a shoulder to cry on’-type ballads. The other single released with ‘Do it, Try it prior to the album, ‘Solitude‘ has a great melodic hook and epic string sections reminiscent of Radiohead, Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues (tall claims, yes, but just listen). Singer/songwriter Beck also joins in for Ultravox/Tesla Kid-sounding ‘Time Wind’.

To the perceptive eye, the typography of the word ‘Junk’ on the front cover is that of the Schwarzenegger film, Kindergarten Cop, and the 80s/90’s-looking McDonald’s figures adorning the cover remind me of my childhood. Junk is M83’s most varied and listenable album playing on an entirely different range of nostalgic and cliche sounds from yesteryear. We’re moved from John Hughes to stadium rockers to the flat out 80s new-wave pop of Ultravox and Blondie and Duran Duran. M83 understand the kind of songs they’re writing; no pretension. And, So. Much. Kitsch.

A cheeseburger anyone? Let’s just have fun. Hurry up and listen to this Junk. 



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