M83 – ‘Fantasy’ Review: Reluctant hitmaker regresses into cult shoegaze

Anthony Gonzalez’s ninth album sees him trying to shun commercialism, with largely successful results

More than a decade after the release of his breakthrough sixth album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ and its global megahit ‘Midnight City’, M83’s Anthony Gonzalez is still living in the shadow of that particular song. “It was almost too much for me, you know?” He told NME earlier this year about its massive success. “Maybe I didn’t deserve it, and maybe I’m just a small indie artist who wants to make small indie albums.”

Gonzalez, who started out as an enigmatic Paris-based electronic producer, was propelled by the success of that 2011 record into a mainstream he was never prepared for. The subsequent 12 years have been somewhat of an improvement: they finally released the messy and obscure follow-up ‘Junk’ in 2016, while their ninth studio album ‘Fantasy’ came as another attempt for the producer to reclaim their legend. Came. Gonzalez told NME about his headspace when making ‘Fantasy’, “Everyone wants to make more money, be more successful, have more followers.” “The more I see in the world, the less I want to succeed.”

Even though they’ve taken a deliberate turn from commercialism, the songs on this latest M83 album are sweet, dreamy, and totally welcome. Taking inspiration from the shoegaze sounds of the ’80s and the immersive world of film soundtracks and video game music, ‘Fantasy’ is a vast, shimmering world of sound designed to feel as awe-inspiring as possible.

From the new wave of ‘Amnesia’ to the power ballad ‘Laura’, even taking on the ambient wash of ‘Sunny Boy Part 2’, the near seven minutes of ‘Dismemberment Bureau’ and the off-the-wall weirdness of ‘Radar’, Far In Gone’s delicate acoustic plucking, Gonzalez has created the most far-reaching album of his career: a record that’s entirely free of compromise, and all the more enjoyable for it.

Against the artist’s creative wishes, though, there’s a lead single here that steals the show. Awe-inspiring first track ‘Ocean’s Niagara’ is the M83 at its dazzling best, building up layer upon layer of massive shoegaze noise. “I just want to talk about forgotten worlds, dreams and potions of magic, and trying to keep my teenage years alive,” he told NME. A song as glam as this is powerful enough to make you want to bask any dream on it.

Although by this point the album gets a bit jumbled up and doesn’t seem to have much focus, ‘Ocean Niagara’ points to a pretty bright future for the M83 project. Despite Gonzalez’s attempts to shy away from success, his status as a cult hero looks secure. His passion for ear worms – intentional or not – remains undeniable.


Release date: March 17
Artist : M83

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