M83's lush, expansive sound already made their albums feel twice as big as they were, so an actual double album from Anthony Gonzalez and company was inevitable. However, on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, he doesn’t use that extra space to top the widescreen nostalgia of Saturdays = Youth; instead, he fills it with songs that cover more sounds and moods than any of M83's previous work, resulting in impressionistic moments that add up to a grand statement. The album begins with two songs that reaffirm Gonzalez's flair for the unapologetically epic. He recruits Zola Jesus for "Intro," and her unusual mix of frostbitten edge and vulnerable warmth is a perfect conduit for the huge emotions Gonzalez favors. With its sleek neon tones, "Midnight City" shows just how far he's traveled from Saturdays = Youth's ornate sound. He goes even farther afield with the tender piano instrumental "Where the Boats Go"; "Raconte-Moi Un Histoire," where a child imagines a world where everyone turns into jungle frogs over bouncy synths and guitars; and "Soon, My Friend," which ends the album's first half with symphonic grandeur and Beach Boys harmonies. On its second half, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming sounds more traditionally M83, from the triumphant yet heartbroken "My Tears Are Becoming a Sea" to the thrilling rush of "New Map" and "Steve McQueen." Despite the album's sprawl, Gonzalez holds everything together with wide-eyed enthusiasm. He handles most of the vocals here, singing with a yelp that evokes Howard Jones on "Reunion" and "OK Pal" -- and while this album is as indebted to the '80s as his previous album was, it somehow feels less steeped in nostalgia. Gonzalez displays his uncanny knack for making unfashionable sounds fresh again with "Claudia Lewis'" un-ironic slap bass and "Splendor'"s children’s choir; it takes guts to use these sounds, and brains to use them well, and fortunately, he has both. Unlike Saturdays = Youth's wall-to-wall epics, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming ebbs and flows, with interludes like the dreamy "Echoes of Mine" and "Klaus I Love You" tipping the album’s balance toward atmosphere instead of pop songs. More than any of M83's other albums, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming feels like a destination to explore, and its retro-futuristic ambition helped set the tone for synth pop in the 2010s.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2