Album Review: Metric – Synthetica

By on Tuesday, 10th July 2012 at 12:00 pm

Leaping from a smattering of early season festival appearances, through the release of fourth studio album ‘Synthetica’ and on to their current UK tour, things have all of a sudden gotten hectic for Metric. It’s taken 3 years for this Canadian New Wave four-piece to follow on from the critically ambivalent ‘Fantasies’, leaving fans to question whether the turn of the Noughties had sounded their death knell. With ‘Synthetica’, a brooding and fathomless re-appraisal of band and self alike, that question no longer remains.

The opener, ‘Artificial Nocturne’, builds through a sinister synthscape, narrated by the ever present vocalist Emily Haines, into a rising cloud of static-like reverb, tied down by the driving crashes of drums and piano keys alone. The relentless industrial beat of lead single ‘Youth Without Youth’ (previous Video of the Moment here; live version from Montreal below) wouldn’t sound out of place on Nine Inch Nails 2005 release ‘With Teeth’, and the chorus lifts a key to create a blurry eyed energy that is enticingly danceable.


The ominous trill Spanish guitar trill on ‘Speed the Collapse’ opens in to a manic corridor of a prechorus, before being chased out in to the sanctuary of the choral hook. ‘Breathing Underwater’ has that mythical, triumphant sound of Angels and Airwaves or Take That’s comeback album; conjuring images of a band on a rooftop – hands aloft – bathed in an urban sunset. By ‘Dreams So Real’, this release hits an unfortunate mid-album lull, and the criticism of religiously repeated lyrics “aA scream becomes a yawn/I shut up and carry on” is one that was levelled, in part, to their 2009 album ‘Fantasies’. ‘Lost Kitten’ is bizarrely childish, while ‘The Void’ is a gratingly repetitive amalgam of their new wave roots.

Title track ‘Synthetica’ is an artsy, garage rock take on disenfranchisement and disillusion that sounds a little like an up tempo version of The Strokes’ ’12:51’, but with a bombastic finish that fires in to the sunny Californian r &b of ‘Clone’. ‘The Wanderlust’, with its cavernous call and response vocals (for some reason it’s Lou Reed responding), simple melody and tumultuous crescendo professes a level of vulnerability, really should be the last track of this album; the layered vocal and trance-like Arabic synth give closing track ‘Nothing But Time’ a sense of brevity that should really have been used to plug the gap earlier on.

What’s glaringly obvious from even the most fleeting of appraisals of ‘Synthetica’ is that it acts as an infinitely versatile scaffold from which to persuade fans of all eras back for a fresh take. There is a return to the originality of debut album ‘Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?’ – when Metric were almost as well known for being Yeah Yeah Yeah’s roomies – without in the commercial airs of ‘Fantasies’. It lands somewhere alongside the interstellar indie of the Big Pink, and goes far towards accomplishing Haines mission statement of representing “the original in a long line of reproductions”.


Metric’s fourth studio album ‘Synthetica’ is out now on the band’s own Metric Music International label.

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One Response

12:31 pm
10th July 2012

The album is really great I brought the album

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