In an effort to come up with a topic for today’s song post, I decided to take a drive. Some people get their ideas in the shower. Some people take walks. For me, a good ol’ night drive usually does it, and always with music blaring.
There are some songs that just sound better in the dark, behind a steering wheel, navigating the expressway with only your headlights to guide you home. (This may seem like a perfect segue for “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers, but sadly, that is not the song I’m writing about today.)
There’s a lot of music that would easily fit into this category, but I can only think of one man whose entire catalog is better suited for nocturnal adventures as opposed to daylight activities.
That man is Anthony Gonzalez.
Day 4: Nighttime Drive
“Steve McQueen” by M83
French musician Anthony Gonzalez, better known as M83, is a true visionary. With his experimental blend of decades and genres, each album has its own identity, centered around a mostly electronic, otherworldly sound.
As Gonzalez said in an interview with Exclaim, “When I listen to an artist, I like to be surprised, and I feel like I’ve always tried to do that with my albums and not repeat myself too much. I’ve always tried to bring my fans on a different journey every time.”
M83’s most successful effort came in the form of 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Personally, I rank it somewhere toward the top of my greatest albums of all time list. A majority of these tracks are very dense, with so many different sounds happening all at once, yet it never feels cluttered. Every sound has its place. You can witness exactly what I’m talking about in today’s track, “Steve McQueen.”
For those who don’t know, Steve McQueen was a famous American actor, most popular in the 60s and 70s, who died at the age of 50 due to pleural mesothelioma, a terminal cancer. It’s a little unclear what his connection to this song may be, but perhaps the lyrics could be interpreted as the feeling you get when you’ve accepted your life is coming to an end.
“The world is a goldmine/that will melt tomorrow/Living for, living for a thrill/Just waiting, just waiting.”
Maybe there is no connection to the actor and it’s just what came to Gonzalez’s mind while creating this 80s synth-infused masterpiece. Maybe the connection is a personal one we’ll never understand.
I think the joy of having lyrics that aren’t overtly complicated is that you can apply them to a myriad of situations. It allows you to dream up whatever fantastical realities you’d like to in your mind. I think that might be the point of this whole album; 22 songs to inspire you, to get your imagination firing.
“Steve McQueen” boasts one of the most satisfying chorus build-ups I’ve heard in years. And it’s not done once or twice. This build-up happens three times in the span of four minutes and it somehow still gets you every time. This isn’t your lazy man’s EDM beat drop. This is a swirling rush of carefully crafted noise pulsating through your veins until it bursts.
This is the kind of song you want to play alone in a car with the volume cranked. This is a nighttime driving song.
Welcome to Alternative Echo’s “31 Days of Songs.” For the entirety of October, we will be tackling a different theme each day in an effort to spread appreciation for some of our favorite tracks. Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action.