Why does this album work?
Irony, and especially self self-irony, pervades our culture to such a great extent that genuinely enjoying something or feeling passionate about something or someone is often viewed negatively. Sardonicism is a defense mechanism. And it isn’t 100% morally bankrupt, either: stepping out and admitting feelings or opinions in this way - positive opinions are often more nerve-racking to admit than negative ones - is difficult for a great many people. Act in this way and run the risk of appearing immature, or bitter, or naïve, or humorless. For example:
-Oh, you really enjoy the artistry of certain films and want to tell someone about them, you’re an uptight elitist. -Oh, you really liked the way that little kid smiled and want to tell someone about it, you’re a stupid antidepressant drone. -Oh, you really empathized with a particular character in that novel and want to tell someone about her, you’re a pompous nerd.
In reality, having feelings and opinions like these in response to the events in our lives is not bad. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty normal. We’ve gone so deep into this reflexive, self-referential meta-culture rabbit hole that most of us are afraid to express praise or empathy or respectful disagreement or admiration in anything but memes and animated gifs. That’s fucked.
I believe that if you treat people with genuine empathy - in actions, thoughts, and emotions - they will react positively, even if they disagree with the content of your message. This has certainly proven to be the case here in Tunisia, where I have had spirited discussions - and disagreements - with any number of people about religion, American imperialism, Tunisian politics, and many other “heavy” topics while managing to connect on an emotional level.
M83’s “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is a cry of passion in a world endlessly jaded by celebrity fuckups, oil company-evil and political corruption. It is sharp, and it is unashamed, and unafraid of tenderness. It is as we should be.
Sounds like: the antidote.