6. “You, Appearing.” “You, Appearing” sets such a contextual precedent for Saturdays=Youth right out of the gate that it’s impossible to separate the rest of the album from its ghostly opening spell. With a subtle meandering piano line with notes so heavy they act as tethers against the swirling synths that threaten to sweep the song away entirely, “You, Appearing” is as close as M83 has ever come to capturing a legitimate dream experience. Every song that follows on the album boasts a residual layer of its hallucinatory fantasia.
5. “Outro.” The most regal moment on the grandiose Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, “Outro” begins with a wandering ambient swell, triumphant but oddly muted, as if a great distance is growing between the listener and whatever majesty lies on the horizon. Almost two minutes pass before the music fades out completely. It’s an uncomfortable, lonely moment and M83 totally sells it, leaving us alone amid layers of watery reverb and feedback. When Gonzalez’s vocals softly lure us back into the fray, it’s okay to feel like a sucker. Sure, the awe-inspiring orchestral grandeur that follows is a little over the top, but, then again, so is existence, man.
4. “Don’t Save Us from the Flames.” A somehow-elegant barrage of tumbling percussion, shrill synths, and haunted vocals, “Don’t Save Us from the Flames” glamorously depicts the visceral imagery of a violent car crash. What renders the track so chilling is how M83 romanticizes the carnage: “Out of the flames, a piece of brain in my hair,” Gonzalez matter-of-factly whispers, “The wheels are melting, a ghost is screaming your name,” before the chorus explodes into a spectral howl for “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiina.” A more literal companion to “Teen Angst,” “Don’t Save Us from the Flames” embraces the courtship of memories and the obsession that accompanies tragic loss. Even though the car is destroyed, the pursuit continues into the night.
3. “Couleurs.” A hazy, slow burn of chords and synths and bass and cowbells and more synths and thump, thump, thump, thump, “Couleurs” was the first time M83 wanted us to move instead of the Earth itself (deepest apologies to “Sitting”). Sweeping layers of melancholic synths grow into beautiful skyscrapers of sound towering over a relentless kick drum and guitar. The fact that M83 accomplishes all of this—an eight-minute trancey banger smack in the middle of Saturdays=Youth, an album inspired by John Hughes films—without the slightest hint of irony is almost as amazing as the song itself.
2. “We Own the Sky.” M83 honors the mobilizing enthusiasm of adolescence with “We Own the Sky,” an ethereal recruitment song for enlistment into Saturdays=Youth’s quixotic propaganda. Because, at this point, why not? For all its many highlights, the album’s dogged adherence to concept often threatens descent into self-parody. Yet “We Own the Sky” is an exciting breath of fresh air that maintains the heart of Saturdays=Youth without sacrificing any of the power. Abandoning all traces of preexisting gloom for joyous revelry and purpose, “We Own the Sky” is overwhelmingly now. M83 has never sounded quite so giddy to be inspired—and that’s saying something. It’s also the moment where Gonzalez conceptually lapped himself, creating an inertia that’s guided M83’s momentum ever since.
1. “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun.” Years before “Outro” created the Earth, the moon, and the stars, M83 ended some other world entirely with “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun,” the monolithic closer from Before the Dawn Heals Us. Now, presumably, one doesn’t title a song “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun” unless one possesses the utmost faith in their artistic efficacy. However, this foray into audacity earns the reputation the song title demands. On paper, though, it just seems like textbook M83 splendor, a percussive explosion of choral opulence detonates over and over before fading away into distant, Basinski-esque disintegration. But it would be missing the point of M83 entirely to crown “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun” as their greatest song for any other reason than, despite countless moments of transcendence over the years, it remains the first instance where the band achieved something truly mythical. For Gonzalez’s ambition to align with his grasp is nothing new, but never has it coalesced with such scope than on the 10 minutes of apocalyptic awe that is “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun.”