February 3, 2005

M83: Before the Dawn Heals Us

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Apparently the French are terrible at writing good English lyrics. The spacey, shoegaze pop duo M83 is now a solo effort, but Anthony Gonzalez decided to sing in a few songs on this new release. This is largely an unfortunate circumstance.

Any of the lyrics on this album make their respective songs sound cartoonish instead of moving. For example, “Don’t Save Us From the Flames” features Gonzalez’s Pepe Le Pew-caliber French accent as he sings, “Out of ze flames/ A piece of brain in my hair,” while “Car Chase Terror!” presents us with B-movie quality voice acting. If it weren’t for the terrible dialogue, this would have been a great song.

Luckily there are still a few gems (mostly the instrumental tracks) that could have been on the previous M83 album, plus an overall fresh sound due to the live bass and drums. One of my favorite songs, the untitled sixth track, proceeds like a race through a futuristic city with guitars and drums raining down from the sky, occasionally passing through tunnels when all the noise subsides and then back out onto the street again to collide head-on with a wall of sound. This, M83, is progress; if you don’t have anything good to sing, don’t sing at all.

3 Stars

Archived article by John Penning