It’s been four years since Metric recorded their last album Live It Out – and having been something of a breakthrough for the band it’s a hard act to follow.
Hearing Fantasies, it sounds as if they might have been having a good long think about that in between touring, solo releases and duties as sometime members of Canadian supercollective Broken Social Scene. There’s still plenty of the engaging, electro/pop/rock tunes which the band provided before, but Fantasies is more introspective and contained than its predecessor and less urgently in-your-face. Lead single ‘Help I’m Alive’ finds singer Emily Haines’ nervous spot – “my heart is beating like a hammer” – flipping between a pounding, synth build-up and a conventional chorus with just the right balance. It’s familiar, and solid, ground for the band and the album follows in a similar vein.
Fantasies meanders between outright poppiness (‘Gimme Sympathy’ explores the relative virtues of “the beatles or the rolling stones?” while ‘Gold, Guns and Girls’ is equipped with driving beats and guitar lines which you could imagine soundtracking an 80’s action movie montage) and downbeat, epic numbers.
Where in the past the band has teetered on political comment, this time the lyrics seems more personal as well as bordering on darker territories. Hope and sadness play equal parts: in ‘Blindness’, Haines sings “you gave me a life I never chose – I wanna leave, but the world won’t let me go” — but just one song later she’s singing about spreading ‘Stadium Love’.
It may not grab you as suddenly as their previous efforts, but Fantasies is by no means one to write off. It takes hold and starts growing on second and third listens – and spending a bit of time with Metric is never a bad move.