Metric – Synthetica

Rating: ★★½☆☆

When it comes to catchy pop with a superstar of a front woman, Metric has been a staple for years now. Their last effort from 2008 showed a transition to a stronger electronic sound from the angular guitars that early releases relied on. Three years later they are back and the title, Synthetica tells you where this band is headed with their sound before you even hear the first song; artificial and synthetic and further down the road they turned onto with Fantasies.

If the album title wasn’t enough to clue you in to the direction of the album, the first track ought to the do the trick. “Artificial Nocturne” starts out with waves of synthesizer and Emily Haines’ sleek vocals claiming she’s “as fucked up as they say.” This lasts for the opening two minutes of the album, before the guitar and drums kick in and the song begins to go anywhere. At this point, Metric eases into the familiar sound that they’ve given you before, but it feels distanced, as if you have to search to find the pop music that this band has previously doled out with ease.

As far as songwriting goes on this album, it seems as though Haines has grown a bit lazy, which is the main reason that Synthetica falls flat upon listen. Before, the band put out songs with a heavy electronic presence, but the lyrics that Haines spat at you were catchy and interesting, gracing the music with human accessibility. A lot of the tracks on this release feel lazy, with overly repeated lines, which may be catchy, but become stale after they are the very crux of the songs. One of the worst offenders of this repetitive business is “Dreams So Real,” whose two-minute-and-forty-one seconds of existence feels like it goes on forever while Haines reiterates that she’ll “Shut up and carry on,” and sadly, you wish she would.

Of course there are exceptions to this phenomenon that are quite enjoyable. Embedded in the far away tracks are those that you can connect to with hooky guitar lines and Haines sultry vocals leading you along. Songs like “Breathing Underwater,” and “Lost Kitten,” prove to be interesting and real additions to your listening bank of Metric songs. “Breathing Underwater” is a seamless combination of the synthetic elements with the grounded guitar lines, reminiscent of “Gimme Sympathy” off of their previous release. “Lost Kitten,” is a sassy number on which the quick lyrics draw you in and then Haines holds you with her understated power vocals.

Synthetica is not the step into a new, interesting direction that I was hoping Metric would take. Rather, the majority of this album is muted and lacking the shimmer that sets Haines and company apart from the average pop band, however, I invite you to wade through Synthetica to find those gems.

Metric @ La Zona Rosa (12/1)


Date 12/1/09
Location La Zona Rosa
Doors 8pm
Tickets $23 from Gettix

So the time has finally arrived for the Metric show at La Zona Rosa on Tuesday and we couldn’t be more excited.  If you aren’t to familiar with the band, check out our review of their most recent LP Fantasies or read our new interview with front woman Emily Haines.  Opening support for Metric will be provided by Band of Skulls.  Don’t pass up the rare chance to see these Canadians melt your heart and face.


Download: Metric – Help Im Alive [MP3]

Metric – Fantasies

metric-fantasies-album-cover1Rating: ★★★½☆

It has been extremely difficult not to fall in love with Metric; the band has consistently put out enjoyable pop tunes throughout their evolution as a band.  Their fourth album, Fantasies, is just another progressive step in whatever direction the band chooses to go.  Yes, maybe it’s not the same band that you couldn’t get enough of on Old World Underground, but this album is stocked full of fantastic singles and even more ridiculously good moments than ever before.

The world caught wind of “Help, I’m Alive” a few months back, and the album couldn’t have a better opener than this. As the synthesizer and drums push the song forward, you are on the edge of the seat waiting for the song to crash down, but as always, the band remains coy, pulling back with just enough restraint to play innocent; that is until Emily hits the high notes, and warms your ears. “Sick Muse” follows immediately keeping the fast pace.  It’s a lot more straightforward than previous songs in the Metric canon, but the chorus is where the band seems to excel this time around. In fact, the choruses throughout the album are one of the elements that differentiates this album from the past.

You’ll also find some moments on this album that seem like they were skeletons left in Emily Haines’ closet as she wrapped up her solo work to work on this album.  “Twilight Galaxy” is just such a song, as it rests on “oohs” and what sounds like a programmed drum track.  While one could complain about such a moment being on this record, it shows just how far Haines has come since her inception as rock-goddess extraordinaire. “Gimme Sympathy” is a similar song, though it’s fleshed out a bit more by the presence of the rest of the band.  All in all, it’s a twist we hadn’t seen yet, and it’s one that works well for the band.

Unfortunately, a lot of the angular guitar work is gone from this album, or at least it has hidden itself behind the hills of electronic presence.  On one hand, this makes this album ready for those who wish to take it to the dance floor, as the synths will definitely blast out of speakers around the world, but it also makes the album comes across as a lot more polished than before.  The ferocity of the group here is subdued; Emily now is more than just the pretty face of the band.  She seems to be the leader in every sense here, and for some, that might be a little disheartening.

Suffice it to say that most of those fans who fell in love with the band will still be happy with the most recent output, as there are gems all over this record.  Who knows where the next step will lead the band, but as long as they can continuously pump out pop music this good, they are sure  to have followers for years to come.