Teenage kicks

M83 at the Middle East Downstairs, June 2
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  June 10, 2008
DISCOVERY: M83s maximal æsthetic is all about turning morbid romantic nihilism into
life-affirming celebration.

In a way that’s not unlike that scene in The Breakfast Club where Ally Sheedy’s goth mope reawakens in a pastel dress and make-up, ready to face a new day, mid-’80s style, M83 (a/k/a 26-year-old French techno wunderkind Anthony Gonzalez) has come out from beneath the smoke machines and strobe lights of his relatively faceless past with a batch of new material that harnesses his previous output’s pure musical power into focused and catchy anthems. Obsessed with the beauty and ineffability of youth, M83’s new album, Saturday’s = Youth (Mute), is angelic and anthemic.

M83’s touring band includes 23-year-old vocalist Morgan Kibby, whose Julee-Cruise-meets-Kate-Bush-meets-Lisa-Gerrard siren call is the secret weapon in the current arsenal. At the Middle East a week ago Monday, “We Own the Sky” started with a synthy vamp before devouring the audience with a rapturous finale: Gonzalez and Kibby center stage with their massive synth/computer racks facing each other, and as during most of the night’s tunes, eventually humping their machines in unison, as if the devices providing the rhythm and power were all that stood between them and some serious Dionysian revelry. “Graveyard Girl” was a revelation: watching a youthful capacity audience trapped in the basement furnace of the ME downstairs (where even the rafters were sweating) bouncing to people in their mid 20s singing “I’m 15 years old and I feel it’s already too late to live,” I was struck by how powerful it can be when a new musical generation discovers its passion for the first time, as though no one had ever done it before.

M83s maximal æsthetic is all about turning morbid romantic nihilism into glorious life-affirming celebration via pure sensory overload, with the help of about 10,000 effects pedals and microprocessors. On this night, as the chorus of “Kim & Jessie” pounded us with its repetition of “somebody lurks in the shadows, somebody whispers,” I felt a part of my brain explode.

Related: He loves the ’80s, M83, M83: Saturdays = Youth, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Anthony Gonzalez, Morgan Kibby, Middle East Downstairs,  More more >
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