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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Still Great in 2008: Part VI

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

10. M83 – Kim & Jesse

I tried to avoid this album for the longest time. Even though I really liked Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts (best night bike riding album EVER. Really. Try it), I was kinda wary of M83’s new image (ie. hipsters in suburbia) and the oft-used music critic claim that M83 was “bringing back new wave,” was, as I'm sure I don't need to tell you, really lame. Well, if there’s any one theme in my posts here at LYM, it’s that I’m almost always wrong (about everything). This time was certainly no exception.

“Kim & Jesse,” one of the two singles off of Saturdays = Youth (an album I’ve come to love over the last couple months) sums up perfectly the overall feel of the work. Existing as a fond memory of a time when things were simpler, cleaner, and more meaningful, Kim & Jesse describes young love in all its heart-racing, sweaty palmed glory. And maybe it’s just me here, but the music really seems to fit. In his review of the Mystery Jets song, Zach mentioned that he felt M83 was parodying the 80’s. I’m inclined to disagree. If anything, Kim & Jesse exists as a celebration of what many of us would otherwise dismiss as “cheesy” or “plastic.” There’s nothing ingenuine about the Flock of Seagulls synth line or the cavernous drums – on the contrary, each element has been carefully added in order to more accurately induce a feeling of nostalgia for those times in the listener. M83 never purported to be an 80’s band (the critics took care of that), and as a result, there’s a modern edge to the record that may be interpreted as “snobbish.” That said, there’s nothing snobbish about what M83 was trying to convey – a feeling of tender reminiscence for a time when everything seemed just a little bit more magical. What a great song.

9. Britney Spears – Womanizer

Oh jeez. What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? While SOME people hate the chorus for its monotone delivery and uninspired subject matter (all of which I can’t really argue with), I love it for its stutter, slip, and syncopation (lol alliteration). The proto-industrial beat and alarm in the background really seem to work too, for some inexplicable reason. And yes, the bridge sucks. I know. But who the hell listens to a Britney Spears song for the bridge, anyway? This is as good a comeback as she could’ve hoped for, and how dare you try to take that away from her?

8. Erykah Badu – Honey

Yeeeeeeeow. Awesome, awesome, awesome production by 9th Wonder reminiscent of (dare I say it?) the late god J Dilla. But that’s only scratching the surface. What really makes this song is Badu’s characteristic clothes-pin-on-the-nose singing. The lazy summer afternoon vocalization, the nasal syncopations (“Sugar got a long way to catch you…”), the crooning backup singers – everything comes together until you can almost see the golden-brown honey oozing through your speakers. This is a perfect example of a song that is greater than the sum of its parts. I’m in love with this woman.

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