The Perfect Autumn Record

I would imagine that everyone has music that reminds them of particular seasons. I can’t put on Kate Bushs’ 50 Words for Snow without getting cold and having the urge to go look outside to see if the flakes are falling. I am sure most people think of summer when they hear a Beach Boys tune on the radio. Fleet Foxes and Mae are other bands that make me think of warm sunshine whenever their music graces my ears.
M83’s album Saturdays = Youth is the record that gets me thinking about crisp mornings, colored leaves and Halloween. I am not sure of the reason that this is the case. My best guess is that I like the movie Donnie Darko which takes place at Halloween, Donnie Darko has a lot of 80’s music in it, and this album is definitely influenced by the 80’s. So I think this album reminds me of Donnie Darko which reminds me of autumn.

M83 is a band that I would describe as a combination of New Wave and Shoegaze, except here the keyboards do what the guitars do for My Bloody Valentine or the vocals do for the Cocteau Twins. They swirl and layer until one part becomes indistinct from all the others. The vocals are usually used as just another instrument in the mix and when they are understandable they set a mood rather than tell a story. With lines like, “Kim and Jessie have secret worlds in the twilight”, “If I clean my rocket we’ll go flying today” and “She worships Satan like her father, but dreams of a sister like Molly Ringwald” you know that setting the tone is more important than the message (and also lets you know that this album is firmly rooted in the 80’s).

The album starts out with a slow, haunting keyboard line that builds and expands until the music is spinning around making it difficult to pick out what any one musical line is doing. It keeps on this way for most of the album stopping every once in a while for moments of clarity amidst the musical turmoil. Sometimes the music explodes all at once but more often than not there is a gradual build the leaves you wondering how the sound got so huge.

The first four tracks are my favorite part of the record; the part that most makes me think of warm sun on brown grass and low light filtered through the autumnal foliage.

The fifth track ‘Couleurs’ probably sums up M83 the best. It starts out establishing a musical line eventually adding one more and then another. For a few minutes the parts are distinguishable but when the five minute mark comes around everything is blended together so one part doesn’t stand out from the next. Every once in a while you catch a glimpse of a previously established part but it evaporates so quickly you are not really sure it was there at all.

The next song ‘Up!’ talks about flying in a rocket but for some reason makes me think of flying a kite. I am not really sure why this is but I always find it interesting that this is the way music works on us. Maybe I flew a rocket shaped kite when I was a kid (although the only kite I can remember flying is one with a photo of Elijah Wood as Frodo on it with my future wife about ten years ago.)

I love how music can remind us of certain seasons or times in our lives. I think this is because I am mostly reminded of good things when a song or an album takes me back in time. This album probably will not work on you the way it does on me. All the same I think it is an excellent record, and it is one that I continue to come back to because of the places it brings me.


About themusicandtheart

New Hampshire resident with interests in music, literature, films and baseball.
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