I haven’t written about music on here in ages. And I’m not going to now. Not really.
I was listening to M83‘s fabulous Saturdays = Youth again the other day, and I got wrapped in staring at the cover art. It’s an album sleeve I absolutely adore, one of the few younger than twenty years old I’ve spent time actually thinking about.
The day I bought the CD, at Rough Trade East in Spring 2008, I remember unpicking the cellophane and getting lost in the sleeve. The whole thing seemed like some perfect snapshot of poseur youth, a mob of fictional characters captured for a second in a perfect setting.
The images spilled across M83’s single releases off of the record, matching up the motley crew with some of the characters that pepper the tracks; the graveyard girl, Kim & Jessie, the girl with the rocket, several ghosts and all the kids of the woods.
If, as an M83 fan, you were expecting the car-chase freneticism of Before The Dawn Heals Us then the cover torpedoes those expectations right away. It throws you into vogue, with a bunch of stories that share more in common with John Hughes and the idea of Kate Bush than the blasted cityscapes of 2004 single “America”.
Saturday’s = Youth is so wholly packaged along those themes that I find it hard to fault.
When I picked the album up it got me thinking instantly about The Polaroid Press and all I’d hoped to do with that project. For all of the retro-charm it had it never pulled together tightly enough for my liking.
Every time I return to The Polaroid Press – to try and collect it or to reignite it – I think instead about starting with a new vision of stories and the gangs that will populate them. I think about the unity that these sleeves have and the stories that spill out of these static images.
Saturdays = Youth is a mash-up of dusky romance, innocent sex and chaste seduction, a memory tape that reminds you about how young-adult TV shows used to talk around what goes on in the bedroom.
It’s totally nostalgic, and I’m sure Kieron hates it, but that’s because it’s not made for people like him. It’s made for people like me and Mark, people who don’t remember The Breakfast Club from first time around.
It’s made for people like the Videopia crew, or the London Fields Radio ringleaders, all of whom are seeped in ’80’s cultural nostalgia and don’t see anything retrogressive about it; people who are getting excited and making stuff as a matter of course.
And that’s something else these sleeves make me think about. I’ve always found nostalgia, even fake nostalgia, quite motivating.
If nostalgia is a yearning for places that may never have existed then those places have to have qualities that make them ‘better’. As a result there’s no harm in trying to let a little of that aspiration bleed into whatever you’re building for tomorrow. You just have to reign it in from time to time.