The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: Metronomy – ‘Metronomy Forever’ (Because)


In a sentence:

A curious, diverse yet vaguely conceptual album designed to be picked apart for personal playlists, ‘Metronomy Forever’ sees Joseph Mount enter yet another new phase.

The British indie electronica project Metronomy is back with its sixth, the 17-track effort Metronomy Forever. Boastful in its name at first glance, it’s a rumination on legacy, asking how the material of a band with a discography so varied will be perceived in the future long after its cultural relevancy. Full of both introspective instrumentals and saccharine-dipped crowd pleasers, Joseph Mount’s newest musical baby is a long but rewarding ordeal for the nostalgic Metronomy fan. For the more casual listeners, it’s a treasure chest for a groovy track or two, depending on which side of Metronomy they like best – the hopped-up bloops of their early days, the indie-pop of more recent releases, or the melancholic brilliance of their Mercury Prize-nominated The English Riviera.

Mount has certainly not lost the feverous braggadocio of his early electronica days, and now it’s morphed into tongue in cheek pop songs that please in their silliness and move in their funk influences. Tracks like ‘Insecurity’, ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ and ‘Sex Emoji’ still have that initial intent of “making young people dance”, as referred to in interviews with Mount, with the bouncy rhythm sections, memorable pop hooks and over-the-top lyrics. Mount having said that he tried writing songs that could make an appearance at a wedding after-party, he whips out lines like: “She’s sparkling like a fresh glass of Perrier / She’s happy like my birthday / My birthday, oui, tout à fait”. ‘Insecurity’ is one of the more memorable tracks on the record, with the garage rock guitar and synth solo, referring to the insecurities that accompany male machismo.

Mount’s connection to his Devon roots peak out on ‘Whitsand Bay’, named after a beach in that same area of Britain, a slight nod to his arguably best work on the British seaside resort-infused The English Riviera both lyrically and musically. Smooth in its bass and satisfyingly dragging drums, it has the same defunct vibe of being lost amongst the masses. ‘Lately’ indulges in a similar nostalgia, offering yet another catchy chorus followed by a tiny synth breakdown that gives it that glimmering sheen whilst mulling over the oh so familiar theme of finding that one person who satisfies your romantic cravings.

Music video for ‘Lately’

‘Lying Low’ is probably the first more memorable instrumental, of which there are many. As Mount said, these instrumentals do give the record its ‘meat’ and make it feel more thematically and atmospherically cohesive, yet at times they completely stall the natural momentum that could accumulate into Metronomy Forever being more accessible as an album for people outside of its nostalgia blinded fanbase. ‘Forever Is A Long Time’ is an interesting and enjoyable instrumental, but sandwiched between the anxious yet sexual, video game-evoking ‘Lying Low’ and the Tame Impala-esque ‘The Light’, it drags just a bit. Maybe it’s there to make the same point the whole record is trying to make – the long-winded nature of a band getting accepted into its musical canon, the length of forever, inducing the feeling of time passing sonically and in its name, but pacing wise it doesn’t feel right.

Maybe all this dilly-dallying is justifiable when one reads Mount’s recent interviews, where he expresses that Metronomy Forever is an album for the streaming age, long and winding, but varied for the benefit of picking one’s favourites for their personal playlist. There are quite a few tracks on Metronomy Forever that feel like an extended play on one musical idea, instead of a tiny morphing, structured beast that is a Metronomy pop song so beloved by their twenty year old fans, again indicative of the way the album was made in the first place. ‘Walking In The Dark’ has that, but holds out on the benefit of its catchy hook “Holler if you need me”, yet offers little else, unless you’re super into that repeating synth pattern. ‘Driving’ and ‘Wedding Bells’ sound more like tiny interludes than fleshed out instrumentals as well, ‘Insecure’ balancing on that fine line.

Music video for ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’

‘Miracle Rooftop’ brings back that sort of underwater synth flavouring, right before the jarring contrast between the latter and ‘Upset My Girlfriend’ kicks in, narrating the life of a musician who got kicked out of their band, and, well, upset their girlfriend, all the while the instrumental is front and centre acoustic guitar, which one wouldn’t expect from all the previous synth and electric guitar camaraderie. Do not fret, synths do not go anywhere, here they’re extra ‘80s and reinforce the “I used to play drums in a rock n roll band” line, but the song’s skeleton remains this very un-Metronomy instrument whilst Mount sadly sings about upsetting his girlfriend and her ignoring his texts whilst he’s planning to propose. True adolescent disaster, that.

And it goes on! Closer ‘Ur Mixtape’ continues the mopey adolescent storyline, but with a tinge of retrospect – the mixtape that struck a chord with this one dude, was intended for his sister, somebody Mount’s created character used to have a crush on. Don’t be alarmed, Mount is very self-aware of how possibly weird it might be to write teenage songs from a perspective of a settled down 30-year-old with a kid, but that’s kind of the charm of these two tracks – they veer on the line of parodic yet are still relatable in that convoluted way where the sentiment of adolescent love stands the same whether you’re 20 or 46 – it’s a disease each has gone through.

Music video for ‘Walking In The Dark’

It seems that Metronomy Forever both knows exactly who it’s targeting and what it’s for, and not at all. Sleek and funky, utilising guitars to their poppiest extent, it brings both definite new favourites for the Metronomy fan, and expansive instrumentals. It’s a weird, vaguely conceptual album that hints at themes of album as a unit relevancy and genre in the context of a long career in the age of streaming. It has catchy pop hooks, memorable melodies, nice instrumental experimentation and can be tastefully eaten in bits but as a whole, because of at times awkward pacing, it’s a slight challenge. Not without its flaws, it’s not a repeat of The English Riviera’s glories, but nothing ever will be, and it’s an intriguing follow up to Summer ’08 if you’re into that philosophical take on how an album might be constructed, and can forgive an indulgent meander or two. After all, Joseph Mount has always musically morphed in ways nobody necessarily predicted, and Metronomy Forever might be yet another step in a direction neither we nor him are familiar with. (7/10) (Aiste Samuchovaite)

Listen to Metronomy Forever by Metronomy here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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