I remember when I would spend the money I saved on a CD and obsess over it. Even in college, I would buy a CD and listen to it from start to finish several times. It would be the only thing I would listen to. I wanted to know an album inside and out. These days are dying. The album as a medium is on its last breath. EPs are released more frequently. People download songs at ease. I'll even buy a song on my phone when I'm driving. It's now considered "old-fashioned" to buy an album as a whole and digest the 12 songs.
Before the Dawn Heals Us is one of the best albums ever. Each song perfectly evolves into the next. Using influence from various 1980s-1990s rock and roll genres, Anthony Gonzalez created a dynamic set of songs that stand stronger together then they do alone (though, I think each track is great enough on its own). M83 is best described as an electronic shoegaze/dream-pop band. They take ambient noise and repetitive thrash elements from shoegazing greats like My Bloody Valentine, dream-pop textures from the likes of Brian Eno, melodramatic brooding catches from 1980's bands, and electronic glitch samples reminiscent of Squarepusher to create the unique and epic M83 sound.
BtDHU opens with "Moonchild", made of epic synths and Andrewlloydweberesque drums pounding over a whimsical female story teller and progresses into an emotional swell of guitars, drums, static, choruses, and sustained distortion. Songs that follow such as "Don't Save Us From the Flames" and "Teen Angst" are catchy melodramatic songs that provide the perfect balance of feel good relief and heart-pumping anxiety. The duet "Farewell/Goodbye" tells the story of a lover passing away and extending care from the afterlife. Even before I knew what the lyrics were about, the song was bittersweet and painful. I think this is the only album that I felt nostalgic about on my first listen (i dont think that's possible, being that nostalgia technically tugs at memory...).
The album wraps up with a song that perfectly expresses the M83 sentiment. "Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun" is quite the finale. It even has the ability to make a skate video seem deeper than oceans.
I feel like this album tells a story. Not in words... but in sheer gut feeling. There are parts where you feel hopeful, angered, in love, heartbroken, anxious, etc. This album is epic and bittersweet with a timelessness that will leave you wanting more for years to come. Late night car drives, cigarettes, le metro in Paris, or in the iPod earbuds when stargazing... I've associated many of my most vibrant and personal memories with this album because it demands a nostalgic bond. Just last month, my copy of the cd was scratched in my car. Sad moment.
If you are brave/stupid enough, put your guard down and take this album for a Teen Angst test drive.