Monday, June 11, 2012

Album Review: Metric - Synthetica

Album Rating: D
You’re Metric, you’re getting on a bit, and after the critical and commercial success of 2009’s Fantasies you don’t really feel like pushing yourself again. You want to go back to your roots; you want (wait for it...) “Youth Without Youth.” Innovation requires effort, sadly, so there’s nothing like churning out your previous style in order to keep the discography ticking over until you feel like sticking your finger out again. Synthetica is exactly this - it’s lazy - but what really sticks out as rather worrying is that despite playing it incredibly safe the album can’t help but spit and sputter when it’s really required to shine. In many cases, what should in context be uplifting, chorus-driven anthems become slightly awkward as the spark of passion or intuition never appears to set them alight, leaving the softer corners of Synthetica to try and pick up the slack. They don’t.

Metric have always dabbled in the ever worrying fad of faux-punk. The kind of call-to-arms that overlays blank power chords and synth hooks; shipped straight from middle-class suburbia. The energy with which it was delivered allowed us all to forget about the contradictions in the past, but on coming back to it post-Fantasies-Metric find it difficult to do imitate this. “Breathing Underwater” demonstrates it perfectly with the band becoming slightly lost after the first line of the chorus: like they stand up to deliver a speech only to spend the time staring awkwardly at their feet and tripping over the words. Beyond the initial roar of guitar and line of “Is this my life?” neither voice nor instrument know what to do with themselves; resorting to an anticlimactic wheeze of “Am I breathing underwater?”. I’m sorry, Metric, but even after looking up all the lyrics I still don’t have a clue what you’re on about. Neither, I think, do you. Other lyrical offerings leave a little to be desired. It’s disappointingly clear that they’re crafted to please (some angst here, teenage poetry there, possibly a sprinkle of unintelligible woahs and inane repetition on top...) more than anything else. Coherence and subtlety have been left at the wayside; crafting a tragic image of a band who only just found a recipe for success trying far too hard to replicate it. 

Synthetica does not pass without some merit, however, though even so it remains quite limited. What they lack in bite is, to the smallest extent, supplemented with looking cute, showing a rather bewildering double-headed attempt at trying to be both inspiring (with the crunching “this is why so many like to talk about classic rock in the past tense” guitar lead in “Youth Without Youth”) and entirely submissive. Chime-led bridges in “Lost Kitten” are sweet, if nothing else, though the song itself does pass as something of a whimper; too polarised to connect. “The Void,” too, sees Metric repeat the shortcomings of Synthetica’s more upfront material: with a total of 18 separate words used by Emily in the entire song and in general nothing interesting going for it. As music it just seems to exist, and from a band who we know have previously produced a lot of great material, that simply isn’t good enough.

It’s not often that absolutely nothing in an album manages to impress and, with the added sting of it being released by a band I’ve previously liked, I’d rather it was even less of a regular occurrence. Synthetica really is a mess: it doesn’t know what it wants to do and in the same breath it doesn’t know what fans want, either. It flails in desperation, trying to appeal to everyone at once, but it can’t even replicate previous success with any cohesion or taste. It’s a burning black hole in Metric’s previously solid discography, and I’m going to try and pretend it didn’t happen.


1. Artificial Nocturne
2. Youth Without Youth
3. Speed the Collapse
4. Breathing Underwater
5. Dreams So Real
6. Lost Kitten
7. The Void
8. Synthetica
9. Clone
10. The Wanderlust
11. Nothing But Time

No comments:

Post a Comment