M83’s new album is a total “Fantasy”


By Wren Cueter, Staff Reporter

“This is going to be my album of the year, isn’t it?” were the first words out of my mouth when I finished M83’s latest album, “Fantasy.” The French neo-shoegaze band has been headed by front man Anthony Gonzalez since 2001. Known mostly for their 2011 album, “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming” featuring the song “Midnight City,” in recent years their popularity has waned. 

After two albums, 2016 chaotic “Junk” and 2019 video game inspired “DSVII,” that many viewed as lackluster and four years since the bands last studio album, “Fantasy” has reinstated the sound that was found on HUWD and previous albums, this time tackling themes of isolation, love, heartbreak and nostalgia. For me, the album does it perfectly. The cover encapsulates the album’s extraterrestrial sound by showing an alien standing alone in darkness, looking out at a world that doesn’t understand him and that he himself doesn’t understand. The album uses multiple musicians, over 100 different instruments, synthesizers, drums, effects, treatments and an orchestra to perfectly craft a sound that is wholly unreplicatable and unique. 

The acoustic opener of “Water Deep” gives way to a new wave song about the addiction of being in a relationship and ignoring everything that is going wrong within it, aptly named “Amnesia.” The lyrical themes of “Amnesia” then lead into “Us And The Rest” and “Earth To Sea” which has Gonzalez’s narrator running away from the world in hopes of finding himself after his break-up.
My favorite song off of the album, “Radar, Far, Gone,” to me sounds like Gonzalez’s most personal track where he sings about the perception that his fans hold of him. The song sounds like he is scared of this perception and being looked up to, fearing that he makes music regarding the struggles of the listener instead of a human discussing his own feelings and fears. The following track “Deceiver” continues with this theme. He fears that he is deceiving them with what he’s saying and making them believe in something they shouldn’t.

“Fantasy,” the titular track, is M83 using the tempo and rhythms of disco and I never knew how much I needed it. The track is groovy, danceable, yet melancholic in its lyrical themes and is now and most likely forever, on my usual rotations of songs. “Sunny Boy” brings the album back to the concept of love but this time it’s unrequited. Using ambient undertones in the song’s progression along, Gonzalez tells another story of someone falling in love with someone who will never love them, with their love being represented by the sun.

“Kool Nuit” is another masterpiece off of the album, using an orchestra to craft a delicate sound and featuring french vocals from M83’s keyboardist, Kaela. The album comes to a close with the somber yet forward looking “Dismemberment Bureau.” The song feels like the warmth of a sunrise after a long night, yet the lyrics are cold and speak of better days when things were different. This song is a perfect encapsulation of the album’s themes and is the perfect closer.

M83’s “Fantasy” is an album that is hard to describe. It’s rough around its edges but feels viscerally personal and expansive. Their newest project is a triumphant return to form. The album drips with a dream-like sense of nostalgia for a past that feels like we all share. I cannot wait to see what the future brings for the renewed M83. For me, “Fantasy” is an effortless five out of five stars.