9: M83 – Junk
How much cheese is too much? French electronic whiz Anthony Gonzalez, the brains behind M83, tests the limits of that question on his seventh album. “Junk” is an unapologetic tribute to ‘80s pop that is sure to separate the fromage connoisseurs from the lactose intolerant. We’re not talking about the hipster-sanctioned ‘80s sounds of the Cure or the Smiths, no sirree. As the album title suggests, we’re in much less treasured territory—think T’Pau, Go West, and even, gulp, Peter Cetera. Goofy gimmicks and musical clichés are proudly present. There are power ballads, including the hilariously sappy “For the Kids,” which features a spoken-word interlude by an otherworldly child. There is a guitar solo by none other than Steve Vai, the king of overwrought ‘80s axe work. There is even an instrumental that sounds disturbingly like the theme song from “Gimme a Break.” All this pop detritus has prompted some critics to moan that Gonzalez has sacrificed the nuance and cinematic sweep of his previous works, including the widely praised 2011 opus “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” I might agree if “Junk” weren’t such giddy fun in its entirety. If you’re looking for a tasty break from the cold gruel that 2016 has consistently served up, spread this on a cracker and enjoy.