Review Summary: An adventurous blend of old and new from Metric that overcomes a slight bit of inconsistency to sit comfortably alongside their discography.
Metric has truly shown itself to be Canada’s sweetheart over the past decade. The band plays such a wide variety of genres that one would be hard-pressed not to find at least something they enjoy from them. There was the dance punk release Old World Underground
where Metric took the rawness of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and added a pop/electronic spin on it. Live It Out
saw the band take on a heavier alternative rock persona whilst not forgetting to include a few softer pop tracks. But diversity often breeds inconsistency, and while these albums were certainly not weak, there was something missing that was preventing the band from truly leaving its mark.
came a welcome change of pace. Here we saw lead singer Emily Haines shed the frustration and negativity she often sang with and, for the first time, expose a slight vulnerability to her character. Instead of the confrontational, controversial attitude of Old World Underground
and Live It Out
, we saw her open up about love and romance. It gave off this serene vibe that felt almost like getting to know her personally; and this tenderness led to what was arguably Metric’s most consistent effort to date. While the sounds of the album may have varied from the brooding electronics of “Twilight Galaxy” to the heavier guitar-driven “Sick Muse”, the lyrics and tone never deviated from this serenity and finally an entire album stuck with listeners as opposed to a select few tracks. Don’t believe me? Take a look at how many singles were released along Fantasies’
lifespan compared to the older albums; six of ten tracks, the most singles the band has ever churned out for an album to date. Even non-singles were a pleasant listen and fans as well as some newcomers simply ate it up.
sees Metric take a step back and return to their activist roots. It’s not exactly a full-fledged return to their signature political focus, there are quite a few more sensitive tracks here reminiscent of Fantasies
. What does return is this boldness and intensity Metric used to have. Right from the get-go, Haine’s kicks off the album with the line “I'm just as ***ed up as they say, I can't fake the daytime. I found an entrance to escape into the dark.”
Here, it’s focused towards the younger population; discussing the hardships they go through discovering who they are and being okay with that. The album positions itself somewhere between the Metric seen on Fantasies
and older Metric.
The band’s diverse nature has also certainly not taken a back seat. Listeners are once again greeted with a wide variety of tracks, from the rocking single “Youth Without Youth” to the softer pop track “Clone”. “Dreams So Real” begins with a heavy synth beat that progresses into a beautiful mix of quivering guitars and subtle drums over Haine’s thought-provoking lyrics “The scream becomes a yawn. I’ll shut up and carry on.”
It’s at the same time something exciting we have not heard from them, yet undoubtedly Metric.
The one thing that holds this album down from being something truly memorable is that this strategy once again yields inconsistent results. Unfortunately, there are also attempts at experimentation that fall flat, such as the questionable pairing of Metric and Lou Reed on “Wanderlust”, a track that awkwardly blends two voices that simply do not complement each other. On “Lost Kitten”, Haines delivers a whiny high-pitched tone with sassy lyrics like “Don't say yes if you can't say no. Victim of the system, say it isn't so”. It’s an annoying song the likes of which we haven’t heard since “Handshakes” on Live It Out
Luckily for Metric, the success of Synthetica
is due to a simple matter of having more hits than misses. It’s a gutsy attempt to fuse what pleased both old and new fans at the same time, so it’s no surprise to see a bit of inconsistency. At first it’s a bit hard to find a track here that will join the ranks of their earlier hits (ie. “Dead Disco” or “Monster Hospital”). The trick is that the gems are not the more energetic and spirited tracks, but once again, the tracks that show the softer, sensitive side of Metric. What might hurt the band’s commercial success is that these songs are often growers and not for impatient listeners expecting to be wowed on the first listen. Nonetheless, it’s a side of the band I hope they continue to explore into the future.
Speed The Collapse, Breathing Underwater, Dreams So Real, Clone