Metric returned this year with their fifth studio album 'Synthetica'. An new release from a band with a very solid back catalogue, so what can this new instalment offer?
According to the band 'Synthetica' is about reality compared with imagination, your dreams with what you know to be real; "Synthetica is about being able to identify the original in a long line of reproductions. It's about what is real vs what is artificial". The theme is noticeable through every track on the album, the track titles and even the artwork itself. The packaging features imagery that requires a second look to really grasp, acting like an optical illusion. The song lyrics through the book are also printed backwards, coming with a reflective sheet that you can use as a mirror to decipher them.
The album starts with 'Artificial Nocturne'. The longest track on the album with a slow and mainly lyrical first half build up. The first line is the hook; "I'm just as f***ed up as they say" leads into a really relaxed account of a dark hide-away, "an outsider's escape for a broken heart". At the midway point the other instruments kick in, lifting the track. It's a first track selection that really gets you excited for the album to follow, just like the choices of 'I.O.U.', 'Empty' and 'Help, I'm Alive' have worked so well before it.
Following on is the first single release from the album. 'Youth Without Youth' features a guitar riff and a beat that throws a heavy punch. It represents growing up without experiencing the sort of childhood that everyone is entitled to. It's consistently hard-hitting throughout and a great single choice.
'Speed The Collapse' is an eery track based on the inevitability of tragedy and disaster; it's really quite deep and if you have a good listen to the lyrics. 'Breathing Underwater' gives us dream-like Haines vocals before 'Dreams So Real' delivers a performance of old, with that heavy electronica sound that I love so much about early Metric. It revels in the idea of being stuck between defining generations, not having a say on the culture that was decided by the older generation and now watching this culture being redefined by the young. "Anyone not dying is dead" references just sitting back and watching whilst not really having the power to influence what is going on.
'Lost Kitten' is one of those tracks that you could just put on and listen ten times in a row whilst still being just as involved as the first. 'The Void' is another visit to the more electronic side of the band whilst the title track 'Synthetica' comes across as an attack on the false nature of the world today. How people continue to strive to be something that they are not just to gain credibility and recognition. "I won't ever let them make a loser of my soul" is about living your own life and being yourself.
'Clone' talks about growing up and making mistakes; having regrets, learning from them, not being able to go back and change them but being a stronger person because of it. It's another really relaxed composition throughout, complementing the dream-like state of earlier songs in the album. 'Wanderlust' is a collaboration with Lou Reed although I feel that his vocals sound really out of place. The close to the album, 'Nothing But Time', is a chilled out electro-pop sensation. It's a great wind down after a brilliant collection of songs.
There we have it. 'Synthetica' is a great addition to Metric's catalogue of releases. For me personally, it's their best work since 'Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?'. The song writing and musical composition throughout is really well put together. It's great to see a band that has consistently delivered solid material over a decade that has seen a rise and fall of many of my favourites.