March 31, 2009

Look Out For: Metric - Fantasies

Metric is back after a four-year hiatus with Fantasies. Singer/songwriter Emily Haines, a founding member of Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene, dropped into anonymity in Buenos Aires to write much of the album. It was a vision quest of sorts, where Haines wanted to free herself of outside influences and make a "record based in simplicity and be really genuine," she says.

Fantasies, recorded in a farmhouse outside of Seattle, is neither a serious departure in sound for the band nor is it a groundbreaking, life-affirming album. Instead, it simply sounds like another installment in the band's heavily textured catalog of catchy, synthesizer-friendly rock. The album could have been recorded in a basement or apartment anywhere in the world as long as there were a few instruments and a computer.

But Haines is the driving force of the band, and she delivers on her promised quest for sincerity with sharply insightful lyrics and melodies that have a slow magnetic pull, especially on "Help I'm Alive" and "Blindness." The two songs feature the band's most dynamic and clever instrumentation on par with past Metric classics "Police and the Private" and "Dead Disco."

Unfortunately, the album isn't entirely consistent. Many songs drown Haines, the group's most effective and unique instrument, in an unnecessarily muddy mash of synthesizers and distorted guitars. On "Gimme Sympathy," the album's addictive throwaway single, Haines talks about being "close to something better unknown" and then asks the age old question "Beatles or the Rolling Stones?" Metric shouldn't be so afraid of discovery and taking chances on what makes the band great (ie., Haines). And if you're asking, the answer is the Rolling Stones.

Take a taste:
Metric - Gimme Sympathy
Metric - Blindness

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