M83 has always had a knack for creating some of the best sonic landscapes out there. Two albums ago, on Before The Dawn Heals Us, Anthony Gonzalez (M83) painted a beautiful masterpiece where songs flowed seamlessly into one another in a dreamlike quality. His follow-up, Digital Shades vol. 1, which came out last year, was a precursor to Before The Dawn Heals Us, so needless to say that when we got word that the true next album was here, our office was giddy.
"You, Appearing" softly opens the album with a piano, layered with a synthesizer, both instruments of choice in past M83 tunes. At times Saturdays = Youth is reminiscent of alternative music from the '80s and '90s in the vein of New Order or Cocteau Twins. In part that could be due to the fact that M83 recorded with Ken Thomas (Sugar Cubes, Cocteau Twins, Suede), but interestingly enough, it also references the album title. The songs from bands like New Order and Cocteau Twins not only are from the youth of Anthony, but from most of his listeners as well. This can be heard throughout several songs such as the upbeat "Kim & Jesse," the drumbeat and vocals of "Skin of the Night" and the shoegazing single "Graveyard Girl."
There are still hints of the old M83 that run throughout the album; dark pop as heard on the dreamy yet electronic "Couleurs," and themes of melodramatic topics with the use of monologue ("Highway of Endless Dreams"). While some might argue that this album teeters on being too '80s, I would disagree. It pays homage without coming across as conceited, and in the process M83 was able to build on what he does best and add another layer to it with his music. With Saturdays = Youth, we find Anthony maturing (just like the teenagers slapped on the album art) and looking back to a time when Saturdays were golden, and not just used for catching up from a hard week at work.