Last nights appearance on the Craig Ferguson show reminded me that this was the next review I needed to do on my ever growing list of albums, so it's time to put a dent in the mountain.
Fantasies, the long awaited follow up to 05's Live it Out, is probably the most accessible Metric album to date. I am not sure if it's more mainstream, or if the mainstream has just shifted closer to their sound, but my first thought after listening to the album was that this would be the album that got them the recognition they deserve. And I don't think that's too far off.
As different from Live It Out as that album was from its predecessor Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, the album takes their sound and boils it down to everything that works about Metric and shucks what did not; yet not in a cold and calculated way. It does not seems like a play to be the next big thing, but rather a natural evolution in the bands sound. Nor does it feel stagnant and like a retread of old Metric.
The album starts strong, with their hit single, Help I'm Alive. Differing ever so slightly from the single released last year, it sets the stage for the whole album before diving headlong into some of the more frantic songs like Sick Muse, which I have no doubt could be a huge single, and Satellite Mind a very raw and emotionally frank song, which is not unfamiliar territory for Metric. Twilight Galaxy brings things down for a moody and almost eerie moment before they explode back with laser-like precision of Gold Guns Girls, the standout track of the album for my money.
Second single Gimme Sympathy starts the latter half of the album, which is a little calmer than the first. Which is not to say the album runs out of steam at the end, but rather settles with some more lush, piano and synth based tunes, like Collect Calls and Front Row. Blindness is another mellow and emotional number which builds to a somewhat subdued ending before the album ends perfectly, and on a more energetic note, with Stadium Love, a song that would make for one epic music video, given the lyrics.
My biggest nit pick about the album, and Metric in general, actually, is that they never really take full advantage of Emily Haines' voice. As seen (or rather, heard) in her solo work, or with Broken Social Scene, she has an incredible voice, and you get hints of that in Metric, but it's never really fully realized. Come to think of it, I have the same problem with guitarist James Shaw. When listening to his work on the albums, I am always impressed, but rarely blown away. It is not til I see him live, with Metric, electric or acoustic, or with Broken Social Scene, that I am reminded how brilliant a musician he really is. Not to say Metric is less than the sum of its parts, but perhaps they could be... better utilized.
In the end, it's a solid album. Energetic, raw, emotional, thoughtful, and insanely danceable; before long you'll be humming songs without even realizing it. While their albums are hard to compare against each other, they seem to be doing nothing but getting better. Now here's hoping there's not another four years before the next new album.
Download Gold Guns Girls
Download Stadium Love