ANTHONY GONZALEZ is thoughtfully soft spoken on the phone, perhaps because he's trying preserve his voice. "I'm losing my voice every night because I'm screaming so much, but it's so much fun," the French musician says from a tour stop on the East Coast. Unlike previous albums which relied heavily on guest vocalists, his band M83's newest record, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, has Gonzalez singing the majority of songs, often in a high, larynx-straining range. It's evidence of a more confident Gonzalez, as well as the latest and most significant chapter in M83's career: Hurry Up is a massively ambitious double album, and it marks the transition of M83 from a reactive, '80s-plundering shoegaze-synth act to a band that's marking new trends of its own.
Hurry Up is also M83's best work to date, and despite its extended length it's one of the most consistently rewarding pop records of the year—a boundlessly uplifting and intriguing dollhouse of sounds. Its 22 tracks play like episodes from a dream world in miniature, where stories and ideas are interconnected but, as in a dream, the threads unwind of their own volition, often leading the listener down rabbit holes and strange corridors.
"For me, it's not only about dreams, it's about being a human being," Gonzalez says. "I've always been fascinated with dreams, but this album is also about stories, and human stories. I think what I like about this album is everybody can create his own stories and interpretations about the album, and that's what I like about being a musician. I mean, I have my own vision about this album, but I feel like it's more interesting to let people have their own vision about it."
From the slow-rising majesty of the album's opener, "Intro" (featuring a guest appearance from Zola Jesus), to the ecstatic narrative of "Raconte-Moi une Histoire," in which a child tells the strangely charming story of everyone in the world turning into frogs, Hurry Up shares qualities with the best of children's stories. There's magic and surrealism, and ultimately, a kind of bedtime comfort. "I like to think it's a very nostalgic album, and for me nostalgia is more than [simply] a happy feeling," Gonzalez says. "It's very nostalgic, very melancholic."
The gargantuan canvas of Hurry Up comes from Gonzalez's obsession with creating precise and densely layered sounds, both from finished ideas in his imagination and as the result of trial and error in the studio. "I love to wake up at, like, five in the morning," he says, "just dreaming of something, so I go to my studio and I start writing about this idea I have in my head... I really pay attention to detail, probably too much. It's almost impossible for me to stop working on the songs, but at one point you have to let it go because otherwise you wouldn't eat, and you get crazy."
The happy result is that Hurry Up has earned M83's best reviews to date, as well as winning over a huge new chunk of audience. "It is a little bit overwhelming," Gonzalez says of all the attention, "but it's also very rewarding and satisfying, and I feel like all my hard work is finally paying off. I've been doing this for more than 10 years, and I feel like people are finally excited about my music and about the sounds now. It would be impossible to complain, really."