For the past decade, French dream-pop master Anthony Gonzalez has imagined, retreated, and soared with music. His atmospheric prowess, compositional ambition, and romanticized nostalgia fixation have generated a now signature sound—often imitated, never quite matched. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, his sixth album, adds serious depth to the Hughes-esq melodrama of his 2008 release Saturdays=Youth, letting it stretch out in more expansive, cinematic soundscapes that marked his earlier work—it’s a dangerously effective culmination. Lead single “Midnight City” quickly reminded everyone that M83 songs are grand and beautiful and, take or leave it, boundless. One spin of the Zola Jesus featuring “Intro” will tell you this isn’t some walk in the buzzband park; it’s a launch far away from the planet, an ode to imaginations, maxed on drum-sent crescendos and heaven-met shouts. Depending on the threshold of its listener, a double disc’s worth of that over-the-top sensation, where instrumental transitions suggest scenes like “Train to Pluton” (and then there’s extra epic “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea”), might overwhelm. But that seems to be the point.
By now the sunshine reverb of a dime-a-dozen jangly, positive vibed bands has lost a bit its charm. That fact might stack against a lesser act, and Real Estate, haven taken a cool two years since their self-titled debut to craft this excellent follow-up, come focused to surpass expectations. Their breezy, porch-perched guitar pop is still very much in expected pace, but the New Jersey trio have upped it on all fronts, from the more intricate and sentimental songwriting, to the polished just-right production quality (thanks in part to Walkmen producer Kevin McMahon). For a band known for its summery haze, this newfound crispness suites them, and a fall release date, quite well.
Denver’s Gauntlet Hair balance relentless noise with infectious arrangement, vocally recalling those times when Animal Collective‘s Avey Tare goes in a wild tailspin, while fitting more in No Age‘s lo-fidelity palette sonically. Like many strange-named hype recipients as of late, they’ve seen overnight success from a handful of tracks and are now challenged to maintain those attention spans over a proper full length debut. Gauntlet Hair is a primal beast of a listen, never resting up for a breath to be had, let alone a lyric be considered. Save this one for a mindless activity.
Folk songstress turned dark angel of dance—Brooklyn’s Elizabeth Harper nearly pulls off this transition on her first LP as Class Actress, joined by two producers who clearly know their way around a club. They’ve steamed up a brand of 80s/euro-inspired electro-funk that teeters in retread territory, but there’s plenty to groove with regardless. Rapprocher is approachable in that kind of pulsing bass at 2am dynamic; it’s ready and waiting for you to enter its mindset, and until then, feels just fine, if a bit typical.
Owner of one of the purest voices on the art-rock A-list (see: Sufjan Stevens, Owen Pallett, etc), Shara Worden returns here with her third album, and does so with her usual sure-footed grace. The operatically trained singer/songwriter favors an orchestral approach on All Things Will Unwind, and it works best in small doses, in its most delicate, near-acoustic moments. A bed of violins, flutes, winds and horns surround Worden’s virtuosic range, and sometimes they simply distract from the brightest gem (if you know what I mean). Like all work to date though, this is an involved experience, and offers plenty settings lush and rhythmic to live in.
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