“On the last album, there was too much of me.” That’s how Anthony Gonzalez – the sonic auteur behind that most sublime purveyor of symphonic-indie-electronic-dream pop, M83, describes the primary inspiration behind his forthcoming album Junk, released on April 8 by Mute. Highly anticipated, Junk is not just M83’s frst studio artist album in half a decade; it’s also the follow-up to Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – which upon release in 2011 put M83 in the direct current of the mainstream.
So why would Gonzalez try to remove himself from its follow-up and supplant himself with the surprising likes of Beck and Steve Vai. Wait, Steve Vai? The legendary virtuoso guitar hero who defned an era? On a M83 album in 2016? In trying to “remove” his identifable musical presence, ironically Gonzalez may have made one of his most personal eforts yet in Junk and with no compromise. With Junk, M83 has succeeded in making what Gonzalez called “an organized mess - a collection of songs that aren’t made to live with each other, yet somehow work together. From album opener “Do It Try It”, a fractured yet catchy mélange of old-school house music pianos and pop-art bubblegum hooks worthy of ABBA, to “Moon Crystal,” an instrumental whose mutant retro-futurist grooves evoke Genesis doing a prog-disco remix of the Love Boat theme, to the smooth new wave-meetselectro-funk workout “Time Wind” (featuring vocals by Beck) to “Go!”, an exultant synth-pop charmer featuring vocals from new M83 collaborator Mai Lan and guitar solo from legendary shredder, Steve Vai, one thing is perfectly clear: “Every time I make a M83 album, I’m trying to do it on my own terms – and it’s the same for this one,” Gonzalez says. “Whatever I do, whatever infuences I have, it ends up sounding like me. As a musician, I’m just trying to take you somewhere else, beyond your world.”