THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE A wildly eclectic, electronic music ride.
M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez has always been open about the eclectic influences that have shaped his dance music — synth-pop, house music, French electronica and American TV soundtracks.
They all arrive at once on “Junk” (Mute), Gonzalez’s latest creation as M83 and the follow-up to his breakthrough album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” with its unstoppable hit “Midnight City.” Because “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” was a massive double album, all those influences seemed to coexist far more naturally. On “Junk,” it all seems more jarringly thrown together, but there is still plenty to treasure.
“Go!” is the star of the album, an early candidate for song of the year, welding disco grooves to funky guitar riffs and icy vocals. It’s all a delirious buildup to a raucous guitar solo that’s equal parts Van Halen’s “Runnin’ With the Devil” and Lionel Richie’s “Running With the Night” — an undeniable moment where rock fans can recognize what gets dance fans so excited.
The single “Do It Try It” opens with nothing but house music piano riffs, warming things up before the full dance music extravaganza kicks in. It’s not quite as lush as “Midnight City,” but it is certainly as catchy.
“Laser Gun” mines a similar groove, though it delays the gratification by taking an abrupt left turn into Dido-esque balladry, though the cheerleader chanting of “Got it all! Got everything! Got everything!” brings it home.
Gonzalez enjoys those detours, though. “Moon Crystal” is an instrumental that could be the theme to a French version of “Growing Pains.” “Walkway Blues” sounds like he plucked it from Barbra Streisand’s “Guilty” album. And “Sunday Night 1987” really could have come from that era, with its plaintive, echoing keyboards that resemble Richard Marx ballads, and a pretty, innocent vocal about yearning.
“Junk” doesn’t all fit together, but it does make for an entertaining journey through M83’s winding influences.