Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Songs Of The Year: M83 - Graveyard Girl

M83's third album, a self-confessed tribute to the 80s, was one half genius new wave pastiche, one half slightly overlong atmospheric instrumentals. This is of the former category - the oft-invoked "soundtrack to a movie John Hughes never made" pull-quote has its roots principally in "Graveyard Girl," which starts with a rapid drum machine roll straight into a track that could have fit quite easily on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack. Book Of Love synths swirl around Cocteau/MBV-lite guitar as M83 leader Anthony Gonzalez whispers the tale of a none-more-goth girl who "collects crowns made of black roses/but her heart is made of bubble-gum." 

There's a marvelously cheesy spoken breakdown where the titular deathrockette (surely inspired by Ally Sheedy's Breakfast Club "Basket Case") explains the cemetery is her home, etc., before those fantastic breath-like synths and the specter of Kate Bush bridge back to the chorus.  It's a fantastic, utterly swooning moment (review 2:32, if you will), that perfectly evokes the movies and the era without ever coming across as anything other than totally sincere. You can picture where this crops up in the hypothetical film, which I've just decided stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and myself, perfectly. 

It's a great trick - and a highly focused one; Gonzalez isn't paying homage to 80s music in general or new wave in particular, but very specifically mid-late period glossy synthpop from around '84 to '88.  If there's a weak spot, it's the lead vocal; not so much on its own terms but in fully evoking the mid 80s feel Gonzalez is clearly going for.  What this song needs isn't French and whispered, but German and bombastic - Alphaville's Marian Gold would fucking kill this thing.  Terrific nonetheless - stick it on your TDK AD-90* between Book Of Love's "Modigliani" and OMD's "Dreaming".

* Real men used normal bias. Chrome is for the ladies.

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