My wife, being a Canadian and being a fan of indie music, has been a huge fan of Metric since their inception. She got me into them (and into vinyl again), primarily with 2009's FANTASIES, but had me listening to LIVE IT OUT, OLD WORLD UNDERGROUND, WHERE ARE YOU, and GROW UP AND BLOW AWAY. Songs like "Poster of a Girl", "Monster Hospital", and "Combat Baby" were the songs I was weaned on, but then I came to love tracks like "Succexy", "Soft Rock Star", "Patriarch on a Vespa", and "On The Sly". When FANTASIES came, though, it was like an explosion going off. There were very few albums from the last decade that had such an immediate hold on me as the songs from FANTASIES had. "Satellite Mind", "Sick Muse", "Help, I'm Alive" and "Stadium Love" were anthemic, powerful, rousing, and more instantly lovable than any of their previous albums.
I knew that album would be hard to top, but I certainly had hope that the musical and lyrical success of FANTASIES would be at least duplicated on their new album SYNTHETICA. As the album's title might suggest, this has a more electronic sound than any of their previous albums, but this doesn't take away from the aesthetic we've come to expect from Emily Haines, Jimmy Shaw on guitar, Joules Scott-Key on percussion and Josh Winstead on bass. There is also a guest appearance by Lou Reed on the song "The Wanderlust", and while he may not have the greatest voice in the world, he's got the gravitas, being one of the grandfathers of independent music. There are beeps, sirens, klaxons and synthetic sounds galore in this album, but when you strip it bare, you still get piano or synth, guitar, bass and drums and Emily's incredibly haunting and sensual voice.
The issue that I have with the album is with its second half, mostly because the first half raises such an incredibly high bar of music. The opening track "Artifical Nocturne" is a magical opening track, particularly with its opening line (which decorum prohibits me from quoting here) which speaks with the same kind of immediacy as "Help, I'm Alive" did with FANTASIES. "Youth Without Youth", the album's first single, is basically the perfect Metric song. It has everything you'd want and expect: Driving rhythm section, solid guitar, and incendiary lyrics, but with a hint of the electronic. "Speed The Collapse" is another power song that allows a further step into the arena rock potential showed in FANTASIES. "Breathing Underwater" is a little Coldplay-esque, but that's certainly not a bad thing because it's a just-about-perfect pop song done in the Metric style. The true highlight of the album for me is the ethereal and reflectively electryfying "Dreams So Real". The song has no percussion, but the movement of the song is amazing, particularly with the lyric, "I'll shut up and carry on; the scream becomes a yawn." "Lost Kitten" is the album's most overt piece about sexual politics; something that has been a staple of Metric's music since their beginnings and it's a great track. But once you get to "The Void", the rest of the album seems to become a little less powerful. While it's still really good, with songs like the title track "Synthetica", "Clone", and "The Wanderlust", it gets more into the synthetic and less into the power. However, "Nothing But Time" is a great closing track.
My wife pretty much demands that we get everything on vinyl to start off with and if it has the digital download codes, that's great; if not, we buy them digitally anyway. The vinyl edition is a 2-disc, 180-gram, white-colored disc set and it's gorgeous in its simplicity. We got the digital download codes, however, it might be important to point out that they didn't come with the album; they actually came from the pre-order for this vinyl record directly through Metric's website, so it MIGHT NOT be available purchasing the vinyl from Amazon.
Despite the comparatively lukewarm tracks of the second half of the album, the first several tracks of SYNTHETICA make this a Metric album very worth owning.
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