So, here I am. A music blogger blogging about Metronomy. How very original. But @LisbonExile asked me what I thought of the new album, and I figured that was as good a reason as any to update my sorely under attended blog.
Another reason would be that @LisbonExile was the first person to play me any Metronomy. Black Eye / Burnt Thumb sounded to me then like some kind of warped synth based apocalypse. Not knowing anything more about the band, I assumed it must be some fresh ridiculousness from France that East Londoners were pretending to like. Of course, I came around quickly. A couple more listens and I realised this was silly, yes, but such glorious, angry and sublime silliness.
That combination of emotion, earnestness with a tinge of the ridiculous is where Metronomy’s music lives. From first album Pip Paine (Pay me the £5000 You Owe) to the last, Nights Out, the absurd was dialed down and the emotion dialed up. That journey continues on The English Riviera, an album which is as often heart breaking as it is likely to make you smile. Girl/boy duet Everything Goes My Way, reminiscent of The Postal Service’s Nothing Better, is the natural progression from Heartbreaker, another part of the story. Elsewhere, on The Bay, some aggression comes through too.
But always, there is that ever present sense of playing. It’s there in The Bay’s funky bass line, the fiddly three time guitars in the chorus of Trouble, the synth line in The Look. It’s this strand of (dare I say) English quirkiness that make Metronomy stand out from your Phoenix or Postal Services. If it doesn’t make them a ‘better’ band, it does give them more personality.
The English Riviera is a more commercial album than it’s predecessors, there’s no doubt of that, and Metronomy can barely be called an electro band any more. Live drums and guitars are as often heard on this album as anything more digital. It’s the kind of drift chart-wards that will put off the East Londoners who used to go and see them in Cargo. But I will always have sympathy for the band who choose not to make album after album of barely distinguishably different music stylistically (Foo Fighters, I am looking at you) so I don’t begrudge them this. I am certain, if The Look had been my first introduction to the band then I would not have had the same reaction to it, I would instantly have liked it. But that is not a bad thing, the foundations Metronomy laid with their first album are a core part of what makes them them, but then there are more tunes, more substance, and more emotion in The English Riviera than you will find on the two previous records.
My rating: 4/5