Review Summary: Sweetness and light
Back in 2011, English indie-electronic group, Metronomy, burst out of the shadows with their colourful 3rd album The English Rivera
, brimming with catchy, exciting pop tunes such as ‘The Look’ and ‘The Bay’. Fast forward to 2014’s Love Letters
and the group appear to have retreated back into the darkness, with a moody, muffled album far from the Technicolor joys of three years previous.
The bright pink album cover and title, which seem to suggest the sweet joys of being in love, mislead the casual observer into assuming the record will be all sugary sweet romance. But Love Letters
takes on a different tone right from the start, opening with the lo-fi, hazy ‘The Upsetter’, where lead singer Joseph Mount desperately counters the claim that he is ‘the upsetter’ with proclamations that he has got to get his message to his loved one because he is “alone, and so in love"
. The somber opener moves to the equally uneasy ‘I’m Aquarius’ and ‘Monstrous’, which both, like their predecessor, operate on shuffled beats and muffled organs, detailing break-up: “you left the ring I bought you with your cigarettes”
. The title track even begins with somber trumpets and sax, further cementing the late night-heartbreak theme of the LP; but ultimately bursts into the liveliest arrangement of the set.
‘Month of Sundays’ presents itself as one of the most immediately attractive songs on the record with its brief, angular guitars sounding not unlike early Cure (think Three Imaginary Boys
era). Even more leftfield is the mysterious instrumental ‘Boy Racers’, which reaches back to the early 80’s, with a dark, icy synth arrangement winding up as funky as it is eerie. ‘Call Me’ is more of the same sparse, dark synth pop and doesn’t wain in quality; nor does the daftly named but solidly executed ‘The Immaculate Haircut’, or the final two tracks continuing in the same manner as their companions to add to the thematic and musical concept of this exceptionally consistent set.
Upon first listening Love Letters
may appear to be the ugly, unloved sibling compared with the breezy sunshine of older brother, English Riviera
, but that is merely because Love Letters
is a more challenging and complex album than the group’s previous effort. But given time, Love Letters
shapes up as an equally impressive collection of songs which grow in strength the more one invests in their intimate, confessional messages, presenting a different but wholly satisfying slant on Metronomy’s familiar style.