“Synthetica” – Metric

3 stars (out of 5)

0

Product DetailsMetric continue to employ electronics, guitars and Emily Haines’ sweetly enquiring and accusing vocals. Their last full length, “Fantasies”, was released 4 years ago and was promoted almost throughout that entire period with the last gasp of remixes being finally released late last year. “Fantasies” was a bombastic, old fashioned, highly polished power pop type of record and it worked very well, stuffed full of great songs. Although “Synthetica” doesn’t deviate from that sound, when the songs aren’t there it becomes difficult to match it.

The tracks that work well here are the ones which employ something a little different sonically; it’s the more basic, traditionally structured songs which really pale when they should pop. Opening track “Artificial Nocturne” is fantastic and serves as a kind of introduction piece rather than a fully-fledged song even though it’s nearly 6 minutes long. A pin-sharp melody with Emily’s first words ‘I’m as fucked up as they say’ grabbing your attention immediately as it morphs and bends into several different musical shapes before it segues into the first single “Youth Without Youth”. This is one of the best songs on here with a schaffel rhythm and a strong hook about corrupted kids and is Metric doing what they do best.

After a strong start the following couple of songs are ok but rather dull and thin sounding.  This is unfortunately Metric’s default sound; when the material isn’t up to much everything flails. The stark honking synth siren that blares from “Dreams So Real” comes as relief. If the themes weren’t clear before now they are made obvious in this track’s mantra ‘Our parents’ daughters and sons believed in the power in songs, but what if those days are gone?’  Hardly subtle I know, but it packs precisely the punch it’s meant to. “Lost Kitten”, which follows,  is a comment on the sex industry with Haines high pitched yelping vocals (yes, they’re kittenish) and thin glam rock.  It starts off sounding like a Goldfrapp pastiche but develops into something much warmer and compelling and is one of the best songs here.

The title track “Synthetica” sounds like a decent Blondie song, in fact very late 70’s Blondie seems like one of the main reference points for Metric and on “Fantasies” they were close to matching Debbie Harry and the boys at their peak for energy and sparkling, songwriting expertise. Considering the over-riding theme here is that of an absence of  something solid and physical this collection however is a predominantly  anodyne, shallow (see the boring Lou Reed duet “The Wanderlust”) and, crucially, soulless album. Download the 4 or 5 good tracks and buy “Eat To The Beat”.