Starting out as an instrumental electronic band, it’s hard to believe how much Metronomy has changed over the course of four albums.
Things snowballed when their 2011 escapist’s masterpiece ‘The English Riviera’ (a feature from the time) sold its way to a silver certification in the UK, and with more eyes than ever on the foursome it is with great intrigue that we welcome this new studio album.
Writing started with the conception of ‘I’m Aquarius’, a lo-fi pop song with abundant hooks, inspired by ‘Let The Sunshine In’ by Diana Ross & The Supremes and the spate of astrological pop songs that garnished the late-’60s. That retrospective approach continued into the album recording, with mainman Joseph Mount choosing to lay down the entire record at Hackney’s notoriously analogue Toe Rag Studios.
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It’s a process that has changed him as a writer. ‘Love Letters’ starts with ‘The Upsetter’: a simple drum machine beat beneath campfire acoustic guitar chords, Mount’s distant tenor and a sizzling Latin-inspired electric guitar solo.
Within 20 seconds, his lyrics reference being “back on the Riviera”, a quick nod to that last release. Yet it’s clear that Metronomy’s inspiration palette is using new colours, and the nostalgia of The Zombies, The Beach Boys and Sly And The Family Stone is summoned effectively.
‘Month Of Sundays’ is a little prog-rock shop of past relationship horrors, ‘Boy Racers’ is a fast-paced Italo-disco venture down the autobahn, and the album’s most upbeat track, ‘Love Letters’, opens with superbly controlled trumpet, sax and trombone before bursting into a diptych of Electric Light Orchestra keys and Motown rhythm over a hard 4/4 stomp.
The radical variation on this album speaks volumes – this casting respect to yesteryear twisted with the juices of his modern imagination – and if ‘The English Riviera’ was Mount at his most accessible, then ‘Love Letters’ finds him at his most inventive.
Words: Joe Zadeh
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Look out for more Metronomy coverage over the coming weeks on Clash.