Album of the Month: M83 - Junk
The passing of Lemmy, Bowie and most recently, Prince, (sobs into purple handkerchief) has been like standing in a room, watching the musical lights of my teenage years go out one by one. I am one of countless feeling dispirited as these cultural behemoths vanish in untimely fashion. This was not supposed to happen. They were supposed to live forever. The death of Prince Rogers Nelson was always going to hit the hardest. He was my "Beatles" when growing up, genius-cum-God-cum-sex fiend. It feels childish confessing to my baleful sentiments, yet there is undeniably a Prince-shaped hole in my life that will never be filled. I am disconsolate but not alone. The subsequent outpouring of distress for an artist that let's face it, has not enjoyed chart success for many years, provides some comfort. Clearly his imperial phase from 1980 to 1988, from Dirty Mind to Alphabet Street, is deeply ingrained on many. Simply observe the numerous live tributes to the musicians' musician, from Bruce Springsteen to LCD Soundsystem. My own favorite is a brilliant, lachrymose rendition of "Sometimes It Snows In April" by d'Angelo on Jimmy Fallon. Watch 'n weep.
A chapter is closing on a golden era of pop music that began when Elvis wiggled his hips and invented the teenager. Henceforth, famous musicians have always died, however, there has always been someone with comparable cultural gravitas to replace them and keep the momentum going. Even when Lennon was shot dead we still had 75% of the Beatles. Fact is, in this Internet age there are no musical giants to replace Lemmy, Bowie or Prince, ergo a melancholy emptiness hangs over us. The party's over, isn't it?
This month's album of the month will not cure our collective blues. Yet M83's "Junk" is a timely reminder that creativity and great songs continue to be made, even if the Internet has diluted their cultural impact. Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez's seventh album since his eponymous debut in 2001 is a masterpiece of glittery retro-80s pop executed with such craftsmanship that you cannot help but feel uplifted. Sure, it has received tepid reviews from the press, with the notable exception for Q magazine that awarded it a rare 5-star review. Q were right.
Opening salvo: the pumping "Do It, Try It", the euphoric "Go", the sultry/soulful "Walkaway Blues" and Daft Punk inspired "Bibi The Dog" are all pure class. Totally derivative of course, then again, practically all music boils down to rejigged interpretations and/or inspired reinvention because there are no Prince and Bowies breaking down musical barriers. Maybe there are no more musical barriers to break? I digress. "Moon Crystal" is Muzak schmaltz, something I might have heard in a department store whilst shopping with mum circa 1978 and it is a sentimental delight. Junk loses a little momentum towards the second half yet quality control remains switched on, from the intelligent pop of "Time Wind" to the final track "Sunday Night 1987", redolent one of Air's more pensive moments, with lovely mournful bit of mouth-organ to bid you adieu.
There is nothing here that will tip the musical world on its axis like "Ace of Spades", "Heroes" or "Kiss". However there are musical moments that give hope that music will go on and on. We've still got Kanye, Beyoncé, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Tame Impala, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem back from retirement...
Oh shit...they're playing Kiss again on the radio...fetch me the Prozac!
Oh...anything...I don't care...I'm depressed.
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