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Throwback Thursday: M83, ‘Midnight City’

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly series showcasing an album, single, music video or performance of a bygone era and its personal and/or cultural significance.

It’s difficult to describe M83’s 2011 double-album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming in your standard music-blogger jargon, pointing out tracks that sound like X and tracks that do Y for the album. The album is so meticulously structured yet so movingly expansive that instead of focusing on hooks, it focuses on evoking experiences of the past, present and future. It compacts all of those memories and desires together and extracts from them the deepest essences of love and joy, pain and sorrow.

Through the sprawling and electronic dream-pop landscape musical mastermind Anthony Gonzalez creates over the record’s 22 tracks, one in particular stands out as the crown jewel. “Midnight City” might be M83’s biggest hit from a chart metrics and radio perspective, but what makes it so incredible isn’t its success in mainstream music, but the rush of sensations it encompasses in just over four minutes.

Across the wide spectrum of emotions that surge and intertwine in the album, “Midnight City” focuses on ecstasy – bleating synthesizers and heavily reverberated vocals echoing vivacious liberation into the night sky, personifying youthful bliss and depicting it all as a kind of cult religion. The haze of the inebriated nightlife, dazzling neon lights and graffiti-stained brick walls, it’s all Gonzalez’s church. He somehow manages to capture so much emotional power so effortlessly in the track’s four-minute span, and each time I press play, I flashback to liquor soaked nights in college with good friends, soft kisses underneath disco lights and moments of unabashed, unfiltered happiness.

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Chris Will

A DMV resident and aspiring pop music pro, Chris spends most of his free time playing rugby for the LGBTQIA rugby team the Washington Scandals and day dreaming of everyone Lorde could (and should) collaborate with.