Review Summary: Six years after it was recorded Last Gang Records is opening the vault and releasing Metric's formerly unreleased album, one that just might be Canadian indie pop band's best yet.
Metric has been around for quite awhile now. Formed in New York as a two piece in 1998 by vocalist Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw, the band spent much of its early years toiling around at first in the New York scene with acts such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Liars and then in the London club scene, where they did not manage to grab a major foothold. Eventually returning back to America, Metric recorded their debut album, Grow Up and Blow Away in 2001, but because of problems with the record label problems (the band's original label, Restless was purchased by Rykodisc) the album never saw the light of day. Now six years later, Last Gang records, (Metric's new label) is opening the vault and re-releasing the ten track album, and it just might be Metric's best.
The reason Grow Up and Blow Away was never released, according to Metric, is because the sound was too far removed from what the band was playing on both Old World Underground and Live it Out. And such claims are not too far from the truth. While Grow Up and Blow away does feature the group in its primitive stages, it does explore musical directions foreign to the sound off of Metric. The music is still driven by Emily Haines, who delivers perhaps the best performances of her career thus far, and the synths (also played by Haines), but the atmospheres of the majority of the new songs are definitely more varied. The title track is an upbeat offering and probably best reflects the band's new direction both through its music and feel, but Metric experiments with several emotions and song structures, including the reflective Raw Sugar, the poppy Soft Rock Star, and the down-tempo, mysterious sounding The Twist. Though the actual music, represented by simple guitar work, synths, or constant beats, seems like it takes a backseat to Haines' soothing vocal lines, it is actually rather effective at creating an enjoyable, captivating atmosphere.
A major reason why Grow Up and Blow Away is Metric's finest release is because of the quality of its songs. A number of the album's tracks are among the strongest the band has ever written, and the title track perhaps best exemplifies this excellence. The album's most enjoyable number, it combines many of Metric's most important elements, such as catchy vocal-lines; quirky, yet hook-laden synths; interesting lyrics; and a laidback demeanour which could get even Jonah Jameson relaxed. The sporadic, melodic synths heard throughout the track are extremely infectious, and among the most memorable moments of the album. Another impressive cut off of Grow Up and Blow Away would be The Twist. Like I mentioned earlier, the song is a more down-tempo track. It has a sullen feel to it, and is mostly lead by Emily's fairly strange, yet interesting lyrics as well as her peaceful vocal melodies. Many of the album's other tracks, like Soft Rock Star or On the Sly for example, are similar to The Twist in that they do not feature the energy that Metric's future songs readily display, but they manage to sound different from one another, adding some variety to the record.
Metric's description of Grow Up and Blow Away as a primitive display of the group's future sound is a fairly apt way to look at the album. Though few of the tracks, (specifically the title track) share musical similarities with the material found on Old World Underground and Live it Out, it was here that the band's song writing style was developed. Both fans and those looking to get into Metric should check out Grow Up and Blow Away because it not only represents a different era for the band, but also because, quite frankly, the album is the best out of Metric's discography.
Grow Up and Blow Away
Rock Me Now
Soft Rock Star
On the Sly