Album review by KevW
There must be temptation for Emily Haines and co. to plot a course for arenas, mega sales and the ethically dubious path towards selling out. It's clear this is a viable option: Metric write big songs, they use big production, their records garner much acclaim and decent sales. They're just a mega hit away from a couple of years worth of raking in some filthy lucre and sitting pretty for the rest of their lives. It's a route they refuse to take, and they deserve much respect for remaining an "alternative" band, brave enough to churn out album after album of immaculately produced indie-rock that inhabits a credible middle ground between lo-fi cool and commercial credibility suicide. But that's what they do best, and on new album 'Synthetica' they may well have nailed their style more firmly than ever.
These tuness are huge without being distasteful, pristine in every way, not a hair out of place and still as appealing as ever. In an ideal world it would be songs like 'Artificial Nocturne' and 'Breathing Underwater' that would be filling mega venues, not soulless, insipid filth like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2, but human nature doesn't allow genuine and properly realised ambition to flourish. As well as these perfectly executed widescreen anthems-that-will-never-be, Haines goes all Suzi Quatro on us with the glam stomp of 'Youth Without Youth', and the album's title-track is exceptional alt-rock that Belly or The Breeders would have sold their grannies for. 'Dreams So Real' is exquisite in its simplicity, carried along on a gentle electric fuzz, it's the antithesis the album's grander moments. Essentially it's this kind of musical understanding that ensures Metric stay not only credible but bloody fantastic with it. They know not to overstep the mark.
The real high point on 'Synthetica' is 'The Wanderlust', maybe even a contender for song of the year, that features a heart-warming collaboration with Lou Reed, going some way to making up for the whole Metallica debacle. Metric, although capable, will never join that band in setting their sights on the stadiums of the world and the millions of album sales that come with it, they have too much integrity for that, too much of an understanding of what music stands for. So while 'Synthetica' is an ambitious album with some colossal sounding songs on it, it never crosses the line and, for those who care about this kind of thing, it never loses credibility. Metric have shown here that you can aspire to great things without jeopardising your principles along the way. It's not an approach that many master with such aplomb, and for that reason 'Synthetica' is an album that should be cherished by many.
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