14 August 2009
In 2006, Metric released "Live It Out", a fast, furious and stressed-out album that exposed their views on things like modern life and the war (on possibly their best song, "Monster Hospital") and frontwoman and keyboard-player Emily Haines adopted a more unconventional singing style, sometimes screaming, sometimes cooing and then warping her voice in the most strangest of manners to represent anguish and desperation. Three years down the line, and one solo project for Haines, Metric have released "Fantasies", a much more structured and adult effort.
Of course, that doesn't mean I prefer "Live It Out". Both albums can top each other in different ways, and here Metric are taking slight advantage of the rise of electro but subverting it slightly and moulding it to their own liking. "Twilight Galaxy" and "Front Row" provide the mellowest moments of the album and allow Haines to truly take the lead, making use of her synth-playing expertise and the experience she gained in making her low-key solo album.
Oh, and then we get stabbing, attention-grabbing guitars straight after, reminiscent of their last album. But unlike on "Live It Out" you're left with more room to breathe in each song - perhaps with the exception of album closer "Stadium Love" which continues their love of not ending albums on a dull note. Indeed, "Stadium Love" is the most hectic song and with its long fade-out, disruptive fuzz and an urgent beat, it's also one of the album's most uplifting songs (for some reason, this album is dark without trying deliberately to be like the night; it's all in the little things that you don't notice after just one play).
"Gimme Sympathy" plays on the old question of "would you rather be the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?" I was sort of surprised that this was chosen to be a single but maybe they're trying to reach a new audience with this strategy. "Sick Muse" is a twisted love song hidden behind lyrics about silly people, rejecting money, wanting to be the best and having a mental illness. Nice.
If there's one downside to this album it's that opener "Help I'm Alive" is one minute too long. It has one verse, one bridge and one chorus, each with a different key and a different tone. After four and a half minutes this gets a bit wearing and you get the feeling that the triumphant ending piece should have been taped on just after that bit with the crazy descending penny-whistle noise. Then it would have been better. But that's just personal opinion.
Still, this is a great effort - even my dad likes it so it must have something good going for it. Favourite song? "Satellite Mind". But since they didn't have that on YouTube, I'll let you go with "Sick Muse" instead: