Stream or download a free track from the album, 'When', below
The playful, sophisticated dance pop of Italian duo M+A's second album These Days is so seamlessly hooky and compelling that upon listening it's hard to imagine a world without it. It's a perfect distillation of a yearning for endless summer. M+A's 2011 debut Things.Yes was an inventive and spirited exploration of an organic, heartfelt variety of genre-hopping electro-acoustic pop that promised many good things to come from the young artists. But, perhaps nothing could've prepared us for These Days.
M+A is Michele Ducci, 22, (vocals, instruments) and Alessandro Degli Angioli, 25, (instruments) of Forli, Italy. Much like their French neighbors to the northwest, M+A explore dance music as a medium for emotional expression much more than a conduit for cold, cut 'n' pasted samples and beats. M+A's euphoric electronic pop is clever, but not for cleverness' sake. Ducci's earnest and delicate vocals, which hearken to the warmth of Phoenix's Thomas Mars, pair the bittersweet edge found in the best classic pop songs with the buttoned-up retro dance grooves of Beck and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.
These Days is the result of meticulous collaboration begun in spring 2012, often from great distances with both members frequently on the go. "In this album we tried to experiment mainly with the song form, freeing ourselves of any bias towards any genre," the pair explain. "We haven't tried to remain faithful to anything." Rather than relying on samples, M+A played all of the instruments, apart from the impressive acoustic drumming of Marco Frattini.
From the very first seconds of These Days, the album is off and running with lush hooks driven by the propulsive beats, pizzicato strings and syncopated electric piano of dancefloor-filler "When." The hooks never stop throughout the 11-song, 42-minute album. "B Song" evokes the blue-eyed retro-funk of late 90's era Beck. "Down The West Side" is a masterful slice of sun-drenched pop perfection sure to soundtrack many a summer BBQ or banish those rainy day blues, while songs like "New York There", "Game", "Practical Friday" and "Midnight Radio" easily pair up alongside recent 80s-reminiscent efforts by artists like Daft Punk, The Strokes and Phoenix. With These Days, M+A effectively prove themselves worthy of a place among their more celebrated contemporaries.
The album will be available on CD and digital download and also as a deluxe 180-gram vinyl edition (300 copies on white vinyl with colour printed inner sleeve and a free album CD included inside. Pre-orders of all physical albums from the Monotreme Records web shop will include free M+A pins and stickers while supplies last, plus one free previously unreleased bonus track download. Digital-only pre-orders will also receive the bonus track.
Take a look back at October's inaugural event.
The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.