Metric: Synthetica – album review

Metric: Synthetica (MMI)
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Canadian indie rock band Metric, whose music covers several genre bases, leaves our reporter almost exclusively full of praise. Read on to see why.

“I’m just as fucked up as they say,” croons Metric vocalist Emily Haines on the intro track of the band’s latest release, Synthetica. Fittingly titled, the album offers swirling melodies of hook-driven, electronic indie rock that’s laden with energized vocals, lively guitars, and, of course, plenty of synth. Synthetica, which is the band’s first release since 2009’s Fantasies, creates a stormy kind of electric pop that is perhaps the Canadian alt-rockers’ most approachable disc to date.

Synthetica is a well-constructed album that has a handful of standout moments. For
starters, there’s “Youth Without Youth,” which was introduced in early May as the album’s first single. This song, with its catchy melody, playful vocals and society-reflective lyrics, is infectious. Not to be overlooked is the title track, “Synthetica.” Driving and poignant, this song is progressive, smart, and anthem-like.

“Breathing Underwater,” which combines New Wave, pop, and dance-rock sensibilities
is another essential track. The simple lyrics like

“I’m a blade you’re a knife
I’m a wave you’re a kite”

are charming, while the complex, atmospheric melody suggests inventiveness beyond the confines of typical pop song structures. There’s also “Lost Kitten” ”“ a sweet-but-sassy track that flatters Haines’ vocal range.

Though the album has many high points, it’s not without its occasional gaffe. “The
Wanderlust,” a bubbly track that features supporting vocals a la iconic underground rocker Lou Reed, seems to miss its mark. The rift between Reed’s vocals and Metric’s stylized sound is obvious, which tugs the song at two ends. I’ll be the last to deny my love for Lou Reed, but his placement on the dreamy, buoyant number seems like a strange choice.

All in all, Synthetica is an exciting album that could only be created by Metric. Wholly original and well-composed, the album has the ability to satisfy many ”“ from the dance hall staple to the riot grrrl ”“ with each finding resonance in at least one of Synthetica’s eleven tracks.

Embracing influences from various genres while adding their own twist, Metric has created another unique album with unmistakable character.

Metric’s website is here.

All words by Maren McGlashan. You can read more from Maren here.


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