It's no wonder Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez named his cinematically minded electronica project, M83, after a spiral galaxy. "I'm fascinated by all the things which have a connection with space," he explained in a recent interview with Anthem magazine. And if recent press reports (and SoundScan numbers) can be believed, most everyone with a proclivity toward evocative and ambient non-guitar music is fascinated with him as well.
So what does it all sound like? For starters, think My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai. Being dreamy and atmospheric themselves, those were the two bands M83 most often found itself compared to after dropping 2003's Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, which has achieved something approaching cult status in the States. Gonzales' latest release kicks it up a notch with soaring, angelic vocal effects and even a touch of actual instrumentation. And especially during otherworldly compositions like "Farwell/Goodbye" and "Can't Stop," Before the Dawn could easily be mistaken for the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. Pay close attention, and you might spot hints of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks score hidden here and there.
For all its dreamy theatricality, however, this is an album that may well find its true calling between the sheets: I'd peg Before the Dawn as some of the best Franco-pop to chill out and fall asleep to since Air's Moon Safari. Maybe someone should send a copy to George W.