Music Blogs - Blogged Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Metric: "Fantasies"

Metric have been around for a decade now, bringing their take on New Wave Pop/Rock to the masses. In 2003 the band released their "debut" album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? to almost universal acclaim. The album helped lay the foundation for their sound, one that would be expanded upon by 2005's equally-endearing Live it Out. Then, while the band was already at work on the follow-up to that album, Last Gang Records released the group's long-ignored real debut and perhaps their most impressive album, Grow Up and Blow Away. Finally after a long wait, Metric fans are getting what they want; a legitimate follow-up to Live it Out. Unfortunately, Fantasies is nowhere near as solid an album as the band has proven themselves capable of creating.

It starts off well-intentioned, with a distant breakbeat and Emily Haines' now-familiar vocals, both fragile and empowered, singing "They're gonna eat me alive!" "Help, I'm Alive," Fantasies' first single leaves a lot to be desired. For one, it seems incredibly repetitive and without any real drive. Haines' repeated "Beating like a hammer" chorus builds and builds throughout its length, but eventually just collapses into the same guitar riff every time. Just once I'd like it to build into something greater than itself. It never does. "Sick Muse" is a much more rewarding song, with a fun verse and better chorus than the lead-off track. It still feels a bit repetitive, however, if only for the repeated one-line chorus and somewhat annoying guitar line that carries the verses.

"Satellite Mind" finally gives Metric fans something worthy of true admiration. Emily's vocals are at their best here, and the guitars and drums evoke some of the best moments of 90s rock! The first couple of times I heard this song, I wasn't really sold. Since then, it has easily moved up to one of my favorites. Unfortunately, it's followed by "Twilight Galaxy," a song that has no legitimate reason for existing other than acting as filler. It almost sounds like Metric trying to recreate "Calculation Theme," but it lacks the charm needed to fill those shoes. The band smartly follows this bore with "Gold Guns Girls," an upbeat sex-rocker that is about as exciting as the band has ever been. The production on this song is amazing! From the subtle guitars, to Haines' sultry vocals, everything is exactly as it should be. This is a definitely one to play on repeat.

Fantasies' best track, however, comes next in "Gimme Sympathy," a remarkably addicting listen that hasn't aged a bit in the last month, despite the fact that I've listened to it well over a dozen times. Haines seems to be analyzing the state of Metric's fame by singing, "We're so close to something better left unknown" and asking the question "Who'd you rather be, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?" Ironic considering that if there was ever a song to catapult the band into that next level of fame, this would be the one to do it. It's not only radio-friendly, but has a sweet music video and enough familiarity to maintain their already loyal following.

From here, however, the album quickly heads downward. "Collect Call" is a quick comedown track after the intensity of "Gimme Sympathy." It has a few admirable traits, like a cool guitar riff and an infectious drum beat during the chorus. At the same time though, Emily's vocal melody goes absolutely nowhere. She sings "When you move, I move with you," but at this point, I'm already moving on and the track just keeps going. The next track, "Front Row" does an even worse job at garnering my attention. It sounds like a b-side to Live It Out, complete with overly-aggressive guitars and the most boring vocal melody ever heard on a Metric song. Haines is catchier on "Rock Me Now" - and yeah, she just talks on that one!

"Blindness" is a strange track, starting off as an eerie synth-rocker and then catapulting into a more upbeat affair at the 2-minute mark before returning back to where it started for the song's final minute. It's not the catchiest of Metric songs - which is always a bit disconcerting considering that the band is essentially a pop band - but it is an interesting song, and worth at least a couple listens. "Stadium Love" wraps the album up on a "meh" note. Metric's sound has never been louder or more deserving of the "stadium love" to which they claim to have. At the same time, I get the sneaking suspicion that this song is going to be simply mind-blowing at a live show. Here, it just sort of seems like a false high note for an unfocused album.

Fantasies is in no way a terrible album, but for every song that feels like it is perfectly executed, there's another that feels like it could have used a little more tweaking. The album has very few tracks that feel like they could hold their own against a "Dead Disco" or a "Monster Hospital," and that's a little disappointing coming from a band who has consistently put out great music for the past decade. But as far as disappointments go, I get the feeling that Fantasies could have been a lot worse. What we end up having is an average collection of songs; some great, some okay, and some not worth listening to after the first couple of spins. Up to this point, Metric has given me 3 albums full of amazing tracks, so I can deal with a few disappointments. Just don't let it happen again.

Key Tracks:
1. "Sick Muse"
2. "Satellite Mind"
3. "Gold Guns Girls"
4. "Gimme Sympathy"

6 out of 10 Stars

No comments: