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Anthony Gonzalez and Nicholas Fromageau hit the mainstream with this exhilarating album that envelops you in a continuous sweep of drama. Hugely ambitious, their alternately driving and sweepingly romantic rock/electronic instrumentals take you across the world and back, whirling though geological landscapes, urban skylines and the babble of human society. Their "more is better" approach works because it's so positive - an endearingly outgoing take on the often self-absorbed styles of shoegaze and post-rock. The standout single "Run Into Flowers" lavishes its mantra refrain with more and more layers as it develops. The same breathtaking trick is used again on "Noise" - insistent pings submerged in an ever-intensifying swarm. "America"'s fast-motion rock is made even more exciting by little flashes of film dialogue. It's just as thrilling when they take away the beats, as on "On A White Lake, Near a Green Mountain", which brings to mind Vangelis reinvented in a modern idiom, sterile new-age gloss replaced by dirty retro electronics and shoegaze guitar intensity.
A couple of medium-paced synth-pop tunes towards the end (Cyborg recalling Ultravox's "Vienna") are less interesting, but in the end the momentum is restored by the sustained cello line and high romance of "Gone". The choir-puffed finale "Beauties Can Die" would have been an over-pompous ending if they hadn't instead appended a lovely quiet afterglow that lingers for eight whole minutes before a few sweeps of warm noise draw the curtain closed. On the whole, it's all so easy to like because its drama is honest and upfront. It tugs the emotions in the right ways at the correct times, but not too correct, so that you don't feel manipulated, you just trust it to carry you along.
July 19, 2008
See blog entry: WhyILoveM83 (19 Jul, 2008)