Photo from TheVerge.com
by Hunter Frederick
Earlier this month, M83, a French electronic music band, released their seventh studio album, Junk.
It is the first album without the band’s longtime vocalist and keyboardist, Morgan Kibby. While Dallas musician, Kaela Sinclair, will be taking Kibby’s place during M83’s Junk tour, M83 has yet to find a replacement and is currently holding auditions.
Here is an in depth review of each song within the album:
Do It, Try It – This one is a solid opener to the larger album. It features arguably the liveliest vocals on the whole album and has a nice high energy about it. Also, as the first single from Junk, I can imagine this one getting some radio play.
Go! – A higher energy song where the counting does a good job of pumping up the chorus of the song. It is nice to see a ripping guitar solo put to good use in an indie-electronica track.
Walkaway Blues – It’s downtempo, and could have maybe been another single in my mind. It had a nice use of saxophones and another guitar solo.
Bibi the Dog – This one is interesting, as the song is mostly in French. It has a nice walk-able tempo and a fairly interesting beat. Also, I swear it is the voice from Daft Punk’s “Technologic” during the breakdown.
Moon Crystal – This one catches you off guard in a weird way. It has you double checking to make sure you did not accidentally click on a compilation of bad 90s corporate filler music. Admittedly, after the initial shock, the tempo and melody are appreciable and it serves as a nice interlude.
For The Kids – This one is a crooner or as close as we get nowadays. I could see it a musical number in an 90s children’s movie that you would rent from the library. The vocals are smooth and well-sung, and the saxophone does a good job of carrying the melody.
Solitude – The beginning of this one got me excited. It never quite got there but the strings and many-part vocals did a good job of waking up my ears from all the downtempo, 80s re-imaginings.
The Wizard – Another instrumental track. This one is strange and features a heavy filter effect over most of the track, which is removed just long enough for the listener to get a feel for the real song. It feels like another interlude.
Laser Gun – This one so far is my favorite from the album. I like the intro, and this one does a really nice job of keeping the listener’s attention. Acoustic guitar and a surprisingly non-synth piano carry a large portion of the song, and there is a palpable energy to the whole tune.
Road Blaster – This is probably the fastest song on the album. It really reminds me of an 80s song but with M83’s signature flighty vocals.
Tension – Back to the drawn out, downtempo synthesized melodies. I found this song to be a bit of a buzzkill after “Laser Gun” and “Road Blaster.” This one is another instrumental interlude.
Atlantique Sud – The initial melody reminds me a lot of Elton John. This is another song in French, though this time it is a duet. A song my parents might like, if they could understand French.
Time Wind – Beck lends his talents to this one, but it still feels like just another 80s song remade.
Ludivine – I know I have called a few of these songs nothing but interludes, but this one takes the cake; there is nothing here but slow, drawn out synth swells and ooh-and-aah vocals. That is not to say that it is bad though, I actually really like it.
Sunday Night 1987 – This one honestly falls flat for me. After an entire album’s worth of 1980s inspired tunes, there is yet another song with flighty vocals over a boring piano melody complete with a melodica solo.
A few analogies came to mind as I made my way through this album. One is that Junk reminded me of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, if it had been steeped in indie/hipster culture. Another is that Junk could be the soundtrack to the movie Drive, if Drive was both a little less hardcore and melancholic.
One of the thoughts at the forefront of my mind was that my parents would probably really like this album, but not in a bad way. It would remind them of their music, the kind of stuff I was subjected on long car rides when I was young.
Overall, I did not really like this album. It had a couple of good tracks that I even added to my Spotify, but a lot of the songs sounded similar to each other. Most of the songs are too slow for my personal taste, and they all sound like they were made by a band with a romanticized view of 80s pop music. Nothing was particularly impressive. It is like they milked one idea for all it was worth.
If you like M83, give it a listen because it has been a while since they put out a studio album, but if you miss this one, it is nothing to fret over.