tablet review Saturdays Youth Digital Booklet
This is the most perfect M83 album yet. Compared to Gonzalez's previous ambitious, yet somewhat tiresome When the Dawn Heals Us, Saturdays=Youth is a refinedly concentrated short story of shoegaze/retro bliss. The undeniable melodrama of his fragmented narratives (see "Graveyard Girl") is more digestably sparse in the smaller architecture of the 11-song heartbeat; but the awkward, naive statements effectively serve to enhance the awkward stages of Gonzalez's characters. The vulnerable, diaphanous and hopeful retro sensibility breathes vividly in Gonzalez's soul, and yet his carefully chosen sounds reveal the added shimmer and depth of 21st century techno. His tunes are so thoughtfully derived with historical precision that they work to disarmingly transfigure a pure moment from the 80s (perhaps even more pure...). Moreover, Saturdays=Youth is so obsessed with avoiding even the slightest hint of superfluous ambience and percussion that the effect is slick and masterful.
The artwork says it all: Francis Bacon-ly beautiful, fashion-conscious kiddos brim-full of inexplicable emotions, gathering at the edge of an autumnal wood. The deep colors, pale fires within those fading trees is a testament not to what those kids are feeling, but rather that they are still able to feel at all. It's easy to roll busy eyes and judge a scene like this as the classic Western petri dish of youthful self-obsession--self-fulfilling Goth-mentalities of longing and despair; obstinate druggies replaying irrational fantasies in their growingly incompatible minds; lone dancers, searching aimlessly; unfounded Greco ideals of divine love that serve consumed egos. Even while Gonzalez may be having some fun with certain trendy, filmatic cliches of the past, I think his vision suggests something perhaps more important--it's a photographic warning of the death-nail engaged into the hearts of the eager by a matured society, dulled into oblivion by its perpetually successful ritual of grinding every innate emotion you have into vapor. In these kids' faces gradually appears the fear of creativity's death.
Gonzalez's youths represent the last ceremonies of emotional freedom. They not only inhabit the earth, but apprehend it. They meditate within the private spheres of night, resting on Whitman's bed under the stars of contemplation. They celebrate the loves of their friends, immortalizing their names in harmony. They embrace their dustness like the Beats chasing their Beatrices. They are infused with everything.
But the innumerable stresses will be sent; it will invite itself into the very fabric of their clothing. They'll forget how it all went exactly.