Review Summary: Self-reference has never been so fruitful.Summer 08
is somewhat of a sharp turn conceptually for Joseph Mount, the mastermind behind London-based act Metronomy. Originally started as a one-man bedroom project, Metronomy had gradually transitioned to being a live band, with matching clothes and band members appearing in music videos. However, eight years of touring since the release of 2008’s Nights Out
have taken their toll on Mount; having recently become father, he decided to sidestep this career for a period of time. Instead, he locked himself up in a studio near Paris and recorded an entire album alone. An obsessively self-referential album, Summer 08
not only serves as a goodie to Metronomy’s fans during his live hiatus, but also seems to have brought out a pronounced sentiment of nostalgia in his work.
Revolving around his last summer of ferocious nights of partying and cultivating short-lived flings and romances, Summer 08
is a transitional record in that it not only hangs in an awkward spot in the career of Metronomy, but also revisits tropes and motifs that were previously elaborated on in Mount’s past work, notably afromentioned Nights Out
and 2011’s The English Riviera
: Tracks like “Mick Slow” and “Summer Jam” feature Mount’s brassyy warbling synthesizers. Elsewhere, the bobbling bass lines that made The English Riviera
so unbelievably groovy resurface on the more upbeat cuts from this album. The parallels go down to very specific production decisions, as in “My House”, where a funky chorus bass directly references a very similar line from “She Wants”. As skillfully as Mount employs his vast repertoire of trademark sounds, it is bound to attract unfavourable comparisons from long-time fans, who will rightfully claim that Metronomy, at this point, are stagnating sonically and creatively.
In a way, Summer 08
explores two distinct sentiments that coincide with different phases in Mount’s life. One part of the album indulges in a blithe goofiness, as in opener “Back Together”, where Mount – perhaps jokingly – duets with himself in a dialogue about scheduling a date with a new-found love interest. He manages to impersonate quite a bit of variety in tones, both lyrically and in terms of singing: weepiness (“Miami Logic”), mockery (“I’ve got silver and signet ring / From night climbing and fine dining”
, “Old Skool”), infatuation (”The way you taunt me / Must be wet softly”
, ”16 Beat”). However, around centerpiece “Hang Me out to Dry”, a duet with Swedish singer Robyn
, the album takes a turn and the atmosphere shifts noticeably, introducing a much more bitter-sweet and introspective note. Robyn and Mount shed light on the more mundane and unpleasant aspects of adolescent love – “Monday night, running late, getting you from your parents' place / In and out, to the show, trying to fix the radio”
. When Mount sings “I remember first night out, let the dance now / Flower shaking in my hands now / Trying to give you something more than / The other ones who came before me”
, the feelings of juvenile self-doubt he evokes not only contrast with the careless banter in the earlier tracks; for the first time, the sincerity in his voice seems genuine.