My Top 20 Songs of 2011 #5: M83 – ‘Midnight City’

The second track on Anthony Gonzalez aka M83’s latest album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’, is a statement of intent. Gonzalez had progressed on previous albums from epic droning-shoegazing through to epic melodic-shoegazing, but here he opened with a track that was certainly epic, but perhaps Gonzalez’s Mum had bought some embarrassing shoes, because out went shoegaze and in came wide-eyed synth-pop.

This is a huge, relentless song. It starts off with a propulsive synth-riff and an insistent squeaking-sound, before a beat kicks in that is both mighty and sinewy at the same time. It slows down for the verses, which are about waiting for something to come along (specifically “a ride in the dark”), but they are also a hymn to city-life. It’s a song that is built to soundtrack forward-momentum, be that a run (it was my running-soundtrack for a good month) or a fast-paced drive through a city. Everything about the song has a sense of urgency, compelling you forwards with each chorus.

The saxophone solo at the end is kitsch and a perhaps a little over-the-top (it’s very Pitchfork), but this is one of the catchiest songs of the year. I dare you to listen to it on your headphones and not nod along, trying to lurch your whole body forward. Seriously, I’m listening to it now and I can’t not nod or tap my feet, however much I try. Gonzalez has made a song so propulsive that it feels imperative that you move forward in some way.

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