By Jamie McNamara
As news of the release of M83’s first album in almost four years started to trickle out, it became harder and harder to take it seriously. Junk is an album inspired by ‘80s TV shows like Punky Brewster and Who’s the Boss, featuring guest appearances from guitar icon Steve Vai and Beck. The lead single “Do it, Try it” was a sincere throwback to ‘90s euro house.
In recent interviews, M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzales seemed to be lamenting the death of artistic originality. If being original was his only goal, then Junk succeeds in full. It’s an absolutely bizarre record that bounces from ‘80s era balladry, to ‘90s dance music with relative ease. It sounds like electronic dance music taken to monolithic heights, and is the next logical evolution for a band that seems to feed off of nostalgia.
Gonzales has noted his desire to step back from his role in the limelight in recent interviews. The result is a more diverse range of vocalists and collaborators to usually amazing outcome. “Walkaway Blues” features touring guitarist Jordan Lawlor on vocals to stunning effect. Norwegian pop star Susanne Sundfør lends her warm baritone to the emotionally charged, retro-futuristic ballad “For the Kids.”
The downside comes when Gonzales loses sight of his grander ambitions. Songs like the jokey, ‘70s TV interstitial song “Moon Crystal” feel out of place, the rare M83 song that sounds emotionless and fake.Junk, M83