I’ll be honest: aside from their contribution on the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, I am not all that familiar with Canadian synthpop band Metric. And I’ll be honest again: that was a stupid move on my part. Of all the albums that I’ve heard this year, this is the first one that has garnered repeated listens. I don’t know what it is about it; but the one thing that I know for sure is that Emily Haines and crew have certainly gone all out on this one. Everything about it is killer.
Opener “Artificial Nocturne” is haunting and melancholic—how could it not be? The first line is “I’m as fucked up as they say.” First single “Youth Without Youth” is sinister and pulses as Haines sings about a non-existent innocence, with the cadence of a playground rhyme. However, a song like “Breathing Underwater” seems to be the more accessible choice, as far as catchy hooks go. Evidence of the obvious new wave influence that abounds and bounces all over the album, it certainly serves as a reminder that sometimes it’s fun to dance during an existential crisis.
And perhaps that’s what keeps drawing me to this record. Lyrically, it’s dark and meditative while never losing its fun pop sensibility. It doesn’t hurt that Haines vocals are top notch. She’s breathy, commanding and meditative all at once—and then some, of course. I love the vocal turns she takes in “Dreams So Real,” with a weariness that haunts you as well as infects you; I also love the fact that the playfully teasing “Lost Kitten” follows it. It’s a nice piece of musical juxtaposition that is relatively unexpected.
That said, while this album was an unexpected surprise for my summer soundtrack, I’m no doubt excited for the next thing the band will come up with—not to mention the fact that I'm also stoked that I now get to play catch up.