Review Summary: Despite a four year gap between albums, Metric has hardly lost a step.
It's been much too long since Metric has last released an album. Sure, Grow Up and Blow Away
finally saw the light of day commercially in 2007, but the album had circulated the internet for years prior to its official release; barring a couple tracks that were left off the (re?)release two years ago, half of everybody that cared enough to give it a listen had likely already heard it anyway. That places their last album of new material at Live it Out
, which released four years ago.
Metric will probably always be a bit of a love it-hate it type of band. The group's indie-pop leanings almost guarantee this, and dabbling into synth-pop doesn't likely help their case very much. I'm not one to complain, though. The quartet has always offered up a multitude of catchy pop songs ranging from "Dead Disco" to "Monster Hospital", "Grow Up and Blow Away" to "Police and the Private", and "Combat Baby" to "Poster of a Girl". Though it's debateable whether or not Metric has succeeded in writing songs at the same level as aforementioned favourites, with Fantasies
the band surely haven't lost a step.
Admittedly, I wasn't all that impressed with Fantasies after my first few listens. Though the album is 'rock-ier' than Grow Up and Blow Away
and parts of Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
, and features a greater guitar presence, it hardly deviates from Metric's formula in the past. Which can be a positive or negative, depending on how you look at it. For every Yeah Yeah Yeahs, there's a Shiny Toy Guns, who revamped their sound on Seasons of Poison
to meagre results this past fall. The fluctuating quality in terms of individual tracks also contributed to my suddenly hesitant expectations of the album. “Sick Muse" features bouncy guitar lines and lines such as "Everybody, everybody just wanna fall in love" and "watch out, Cupid's stuck me with a sickness" showcase Metric at its poppiest and arguably corniest, and does not exactly inspire confidence after the strength of "Help I'm Alive". The Matthew Good-isms of "Twilight Galaxy" kick off the song an interesting manner, but front woman Emily Haines kills the atmosphere with a cringe worthy cliché in the line "I'm higher than high, lower than deep". It was never bad by any means, but there was something a little underwhelming about the whole experience.
But in typical Metric fashion, Fantasies
gnaws at the back of your mind; before you know it, it will be the only thing you'll be listening to. A song like "Sick Muse" might sound just as corny as it did before, but that isn't hard to ignore when the song is so ridiculously awesome. To get to the crux of the matter, Fantasies
is simply a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. "Gold Guns Girls" is the album's standout track, throwing together all of Fantasies
' elements in a delectable hodgepodge of guitar rock, pop, and synth driven dance rock. "Gimme Sympathy" drops the heavy guitar presence in favour of full on synth pop; where some of the band's contemporaries would have probably screwed up, Metric has managed to keep things fresh and sincere, while still dance-y and memorable. "Collect Call" slows things down dramatically; where the first half of Fantasies
is a lively affair, the second half takes a more subdued turn. Swirling keyboards and soft piano form the basis of the track, building up an appealing atmosphere that is as catchy as it is relaxing.
After the mellow piano-pop of Emily Haines' solo records, Fantasies
represents a welcome return to the indie pop/rock of Metric's older past. However, the simplicity and maturity that made Knives Don't Have Your Back
and What is Free to a Good Home?
so enjoyable have a clear influence on the album, not only in the softer songs like "Collect Call" or "Blindness", but also in the record's livelier tracks. In this case, maybe the four year wait was worthwhile after all; Fantasies
is not only a top notch record that effectively picks up where Metric left off at Live it Out
, but with a sense of genuineness that some of the band's contemporaries have lost. As for "who [I'd] rather be – The Beatles or The Rolling Stones", I'm not sure I can answer that, but I know who'd I rather be listening to right now.