Cool, Shiny, Glossy, and CatchyJun 12, 2012
By T. A. Daniel
2009's FANTASIES turned out to be pretty divise amongst long-time Metric fans. The album gained a much more electronic influence, leaving some of those who really loved OLD WORLD UNDERGROUND cold. Luckily for fans who prefer FANTASIES, Metric's new album SYNTHETICA is a continuation of the electronic indie-glam sound that the band has cultivated over the years. Metric's brand of shiny, glossy electro-rock still feels unique, and it works great with the pop conventions that the band use. The band's sound draws both from modern music, vintage 70's, and 80's new-wave, and outcome is a sound that is ultimately forward-thinking and also reverent of the past. The overall result is an album that is more consistent, and at times more enjoyable, than FANTASIES.
Drawing on themes from dependence on technology, paranoia, and isolation (the same ingredients of Radiohead's OK COMPUTER), this album works lyrically better than other Metric albums. Many of the Emily Haines lyrics evoke images of computer screens and confined spaces. The title track finds Haines protesting against an electronically-integrated life with the refrain "Hey! I'm not synthetica." These themes unite the album and make it more coherent and cogent than anything the band has released before.
SYNTHETICA begins with the band tinkering with their sound; "Artificial Nocturne," the album opener begins with a light, spacey aria before diving into a pulsing, electronic soundscape. The second-track and lead single "Youth Without Youth" is a mission-statement from Metric, but not necessarily representative of what the rest of the album sounds like; fans have not been very responsive to it. The stomping beat is reminiscent of b-side "Black Sheep," but it makes a great impression for how Metric's rebellious pop can be. "Lost Kitten" has the tempo of a waltz, and with Metric's trademark sound, it becomes a cute, clever track. The title track "Synthetica" is a great, aggressive rock song that sounds reminiscent of a track from OLD WORLD UNDERGROUND. The album doesn't let up from its up-tempo electric stomp until track 9: "Clone" is a mellow, earnest track that offers some of the most beautiful moments on the album. Lou Reed even finds his way on a track with the decent "The Wanderlust," and the result is better than any collaboration Reed created with Metallica :). SYNTHETICA closes with the beautiful "Nothing but Time," a great, sad reflection on the future.
This album works to further establish the band's sound, but it doesn't do much to expand that range. The band briefly flirts with experimenting in the opening and final tracks, but there isn't much to distinguish this set of songs from something that would, say, appear on FANTASIES. The same issues that FANTASIES had remain here for the most part as well -- the glossy, shiny, detached layer of cool that Metric's production provides can come across passionless or (at worst) apathetic at times. The few missteps this album makes are negligible -- SYNTHETICA is largely a consistently creative success.
Fans of MGMT, the Dandy Warhols (circa Welcome To The Monkey House), and Blur (circa Parklife) will probably find a lot to enjoy here, but 2008's FANTASIES might be a better starting point for new listeners who are unfamiliar with the sound. For preexisting fans of Metric, this album shouldn't do much to disappoint, but fans who were turned off by the previous album will probably be upset with this release as well. Standout tracks to sample: "Artificial Nocturne," "Clone," "Speed The Collapse," and "Synthetica." These songs will give listeners an idea of what to expect from SYNTHETICA. For listeners eager to sample this album before they buy, the band posted the album in its entirety on SoundCloud, but honestly, sampling on Amazon will largely give the same impression of what to expect.
22 of 29 found the following review helpful:
Great album that follows in the footsteps of Fantasies but also channels the older soundJun 12, 2012
By MRT I will admit that I was underwhelmed by the first single (Youth without Youth) off this album when it came out last month. It's a good track, but it didn't have much of Metric's sublime melodic writing in it. The rest of Synthetica is awesome, though, full of great songs. It is a great follow up to Fantasies, so if you liked that record, you will dig this one too. Breathing Underwater is a sweet track, feels like a sequel to Gimme Sympathy from Fantasies. Speed the Collapse is also the kind of track that stays with you for a long time. Is the album as good as Old World Underground? Probably not, but few albums are. If you are a fan of the melodic side of Metric (Sick Muse, Too Little Too Late, Hustle Rose...), don't let the first single put you off. This is a great record!
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
Great Band, Great AlbumDec 29, 2012
By Lip Davis This could be the Alternative Rock Album of the year. Packed with great music. Not your cookie cutter Pop Alternative either.
4 of 5 found the following review helpful:
Excellent!Oct 09, 2012
By rozg I loved Metric's last album Fantasies and absolutely have again fallen in love with Synthetica! You will listen to this album on constant repeat. It is that great
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Metric Rock's the houseFeb 21, 2013
By Mike Lemon This is one of my favorite groups of the current decade. I will eventually have all of their albums. The best listening experience is had at elevated volume levels.
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