27 October 2014

Metronomy - Love Letters


I have no idea who it was that asked me to review this album, but I am sorry it took me so long to get to it.  I have to admit that there is a bit of trepidation here, as I am not the biggest fan of Metronomy.  It is not a hatred or passionate dislike of their work.  It is just from what I have heard and saw in the past few years, they are just not my cup of tea.  They have been incredibly successful without any input from me and that is fine by me, if they are passionate about their music and it has an audience then great - but it does not mean it will do anything for me.  Anyway, Metronomy where formed by Joseph Mount (who produces this record as well) as a bedroom project.  Over the years it has gained members and they are currently a four piece (with Oscar Cash, Anna Prior and Olugbenga Adelekan), as well as having a fifth member who plays live with the band.  This record is their fourth release and has been their most successful as well - it has reached the top ten in the UK, as well as doing some good chart numbers across Europe.  But now it is time to look at the album itself, time to face the music, etc, etc, etc....

Starting the album is the song is "The Upsetter", starting with a simple drum machine the vocals of Mr Mount play over a simple song that is aiming for a minimalist new wave/romantic Romeo type of indie sensitivity that will make the hipsters swoon in their own dramatic way.  One of the lines is 'Why are you giving me a hard time tonight' - let me explain, if they had heard this song then I can probably understand why.  There is a good number in there waiting to get out, but the production job is awful and it sounds like a demo.  "I'm Aquarius" starts off almost the same, it could have easily drifted into the same sort of direction as "The Upsetter"; but somehow it changes when you have the drum machine is took up a notch and the bass is given more to do.  This is slightly more interesting, but it still feels like an unfinished demo.  After this you have "Monstrous" which starts off with a harpsichord sound, then goes into some strange keyboard noise with a basic drum machine going on in the background and some lyrics about another romantic disaster.  It starts off decent, but it does not move forward from that original pattern and once again you have an uncompleted number.

Next is the title track of the album, this starts off different to the songs that have gone before with a brass section building up a small recurring pattern over the first minute or so of the song; then all of a sudden the hidden up tempo and danceable side of the band is unleashed.  Well, for a bit they are released; it always feels as if it could just be an all out fun number that just needs something else in places.  The chorus is funky and infectious, but the verses are lacking the excitement of the rest of the song.  However, it still wipes the floor with everything that has gone on before this number.  "Month Of Sundays" is the next attempt at being a 60's or 80's English poet/rock star, with as much success as the chances of a month of Sundays.  Apart from the guitar solo, this is really slow and plodding; it drains all the good work that the title track done.  The next song is called "Boy Racers" and I was hoping it might be a little bit speedy, but it sounds like something that was mocked by Flight Of The Conchords with their tune "Fashion Is Dangerous".  To be fair to the instrumental, it is at least something different compared to a lot of the album and if it was given another look with outside eyes it could have been something really good.

"Call Me" is not a cover of the Blondie number; it is a slow, slow, slow, slow, dull, slow number that drains the soul of all happiness.  They might give it a fast drum beat, the might use some crazy synth noises; it is still dull and awful in many, many ways.  Now I like synth music and minimalist pop, this is not a good example at all - it feels like the end of a bad Human League demo, without any of the charm or grace of those Sheffield starlets.  The next song title just sums up this band for me - "The Most Immaculate Haircut".  The lyrics are all about a man with a haircut of an immaculate nature and the jealousy of the singer towards that fellow human.  I cannot bring myself to unleash the vitriol on the song, as that would be akin to being nasty to a defenceless animal - there is nothing right with this song what so ever, even when it goes for a swim in the middle of the number (that is no joke).  Next track is the penultimate number which is called "Reservoir" and this could have been made by Ultravox, the 80's synth love is out in force on this number.  The tune is another that sounds like an unfinished demo, once again I am let wondering what this album could have been with an outside influence in the production.  Ending the album is "Never Wanted" which sort of sums up this album, I could go on about the simplistic lyrics, the lack of anything akin to interest in the song, the fact that the bass and drum are kept away from the number for far too long and the fact that if it has started how it develops in the bridge that it could have been a brilliant song; but instead I will deliver my ending thoughts.

How did this album make it to the top ten of the charts around Europe?  I can understand that some of this music has a fan base, retro 80's music has been in fashion for many years; I just did not know it was time for the Ultravox renaissance.  This album needed someone who was not a band member to produce it, someone who was outside the band to give it more flavour as it sounds like the demos were done and they went - yeah, that will do.  You have the rough basis here for a quirky, interesting and ironic love letter to the world.  Instead you have a half baked album that neither justifies the stunning reputation that seems to follow the band or change my opinion of them.  I will file this one as not for me, if you like this stuff then I really hope you enjoy it and I wish the band every piece of luck that can get; because once this stuff goes out of fashion I foresee a lot of copies of their album being an ever present in charity shops up and down this septic isle.  All the marks here are for the title track.....

1.5 of ten - You really are touching the bottom of the barrel

Top track - Love Letters

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Metronomy website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for the album for our Deezer users

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