(Metric Music International/ Mom+Pop)
‘I’m just as fucked up as they say’ Emily Haines croons over a low synth drone on “Artificial Nocturne”, the opener of Metric’s fifth record, Synthetica. It’s a moody and grim start to what becomes a deeply expansive album that sees the Canadian indie rockers overlapping thick synth hooks with crunchy guitars and angry lyrics of life crises.
Begun with a low drone before Haines’ vocals enter slathered in icy effects, the atmosphere is chilling until the drums enter at the two minute point. It builds to a clangy jam of guitars and sci fi harmonies, before everything melts away and the heavy stomp of “Youth Without Youth” punches through. It’s a relentless whiplash of guitar distortion and snare drums, with slices of keyboards riding over the top.
Whilst the new wave synths lend an air of drama, it’s when Metric pick up the guitars that things get real. Standout track Breathing Underwater is a festival firecracker, with a big, bruising chorus that sees Haines questioning ‘Is this my life? Am I breathing underwater?’.
Likewise on title track “Synthetica”, where they burn through power-chords whilst they explore clinging onto their humanness against the plasticity of the new century.
Big questions are addressed here; in “Dreams So Real”, Haines asks whether the belief in songs is over, before vowing ‘I’ll shut up and carry on/ A scream becomes a yawn’. It has its lighter moments as well- on “Lost Kitten”, she simply explains ‘I was looking for a hooker and I found you’.
Other tracks don’t fare so well towards the end of the album. The Lou Reed appearance turns “The Wanderlust” into a bizarre 80’s tune that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Closing number “Nothing But Time” regains a bit of stomping ground, and leaves us with the lyrics ‘I wanted to be part of something/ I got nothing but time/ So the future is mine’.
An earthy and thoroughly enjoyable record.
- Breathing Underwater
- Youth Without Youth
- Artificial Nocturne