Last Gang, 2009
REVIEW BY: Giselle Nguyen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/14/2009
On their first record in four years, Metric adds a sparkling pop gleam to their riot-grrl-lite brand of indie rock. Fantasies features sounds more Paramore than Le Tigre, but the Canadian band’s edgy attitude remains steadfast on an album that will please the tweens without isolating older fans.
Metric’s continuing association with indie super-collective Broken Social Scene, as well as singer Emily Haines’ solo efforts with the Soft Skeleton in recent years, has given the band a wider array of styles to play with. Haines’ solo work overflowed with delicate piano lulls, whilst BSS are known for their eclectic take on baroque rock, and Fantasies adopts these and more.
Album opener “Help I’m Alive” races in from a jumbled drum track to be met by a repeated Stars-esque synth progression, and Haines sounds as silky as ever gliding over a dark lyrical sea deceptively washed in shiny guitars. Like fellow girl-power indie group Rilo Kiley, Metric’s beats are infectiously danceable but their lyrics are laced with acerbic wit – the excellent “Gimme Sympathy” sees Haines and Co. blitz through a distorted pop progression culminating in the ultimate question: “Who’d you rather be / The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?”
But while catchy pop-rock is rampant, Metric also slow it down for a few sensitive moments. 2005’s Live It Out contained a downbeat winner in “Too Little Too Late;” Fantasies has a handful of songs that continue in the same fashion. The sheer flexibility of Haines’ voice is evident in her seamless transition from bouncy choruses to quiet pensiveness. “Twilight Galaxy” features a shy synth buzz, while “Collect Call” marries her sweetly reverberating vocals with a simple finger-picked electric guitar pattern.
In typical Metric fashion, though, there’s got to be a slap in the face somewhere, and they leave it until the very end. “Stadium Love,” the album’s closer, explosively combines the crunchy pop perfection that’s built up over the record with an almost angry chorus and raw-sounding guitar and drums, gluing together what Metric has been and what Metric has become.
Though there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the composition of these ten songs, the reason the album works so well is because it’s not afraid of being a pop record. The airtight production quality allows Metric to reach out to a wider audience, but everything about them you know and love still simmers beneath the surface – and that’s what makes Fantasies their most accessible and fun album to date.