Far less abstract than M83’s previous releases, Saturdays = Youth is a digitized re-imagining of 80’s pop and 90’s shoegaze. Rhythms are pushed to the front and exposed outside of M83’s signature wash of synthesizers to provide a more cerebral experience. Vocals are given a new treatment in the vein of dramatic ballads rather than the breathy strain on past albums. Saturdays = Youth delicately floats between a digital opera and throwback album as it puts a futuristic twist on 80’s grooves.
It kicks off on a quiet note, as a piano slowly and lightly hops through synthetic strings and electrified vocals reminiscent of the last M83 album, Don’t Save Us From the Flames. "Kim & Jessie" is next, a pop ballad drenched in 80’s technique, sometimes nearly isolating drums and vocals, which is rare for Anthony Gonzalez (M83). "The Skin of the Night" is a dark, slick synth-heavy that uses bubbled drums throughout and eventually gets a garnish of semi-angelic vocals. "Graveyard Girl" picks up the pace with electronically fuzzed-out effects pushing a rock beat. A young girl’s bathroom mirror rant gives it a cool touch of reality. Already, Saturdays = Youth is a strong departure from the ambiance of the past.
The pop direction goes even further on the second half of the album. "Couleurs" washes up slowly with a electrostatic wave while a bass drum pounds softly underneath before expanding into an eight-plus minute keyboard epic. "Up!" is a highly stylized lounge groove with a delicate female, on-the-piano vocal. The album finishes with the loose "Dark Moves of Love" where guitars, synths, and drums swirl around a spoken vocal that turns into a light chorus.
If M83’s older works could be considered post-rock, then maybe Saturdays = Youth can be considered post-pop. It’s very forwards- and backwards-thinking but little in between, yet hardly out of time or place, despite its obvious dating.