M83: Junk

(Mute Records)

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If you like your synth pop to be so ’80s-inspired that you can practically smell the hairspray when you press play, then Junk will definitely hit the spot for you. While the band’s last non-soundtrack album, 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, felt like an homage, most of Junk doesn’t innovate enough to justify sounding so dated. A few songs on the record do manage to stand out in a positive light. “Do It, Try It,” the first song on the album, is a funky introduction. There’s plenty of bass to continue the groove on “Go!,” but the song really finds its way when the legendary Steve Vai’s riff kicks in toward the end. Guest vocalist Mai Lan’s contributions are all stunning, particularly on the strange but fun “Bibi the Dog.” “Laser Gun” captures the optimistic, anthemic spirit that works so well with electronica. At nearly an hour long, Junk feels like a bloated record for the casual electronica listener. No doubt there are rich layers on repeated listens that justify all the choices made in piecing the record together. Unfortunately, on the surface it’s about as disconcerting as its cover art.
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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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