RIYLYeah Yeah Yeahs
Tracklist1. Artificial Nocture
2. Youth Without Youth
3. Speed the Collapse
4. Breathing Underwater
5. Dreams So Real
6. Lost Kitten
7. The Void
10. The Wanderlust
11. Nothing But Time
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For those unfamiliar with Metric, these Canucks burst into the American scene with 2009’s Fantasies, which featured a stadium-sized batch of danceable indie rock. The band found success with their winning mixture of hooky new wave and eerie synth pop, as many answered the cry for help that was the undeniably catchy “Help I’m Alive.” Three years have passed, so the question remains whether the band maintains that indie rock mastery or if these Canadians have faltered.
I have to answer that question in both the affirmative and the negative. No track reaches the highs of Fantasies; however Metric has smoothed out their sound a bit, resulting in a consistently solid output. Sure, there are more hooks on Synthetica than my average round of golf, but none are quite as sharp and aggressive as “Help I’m Alive.” Instead, listeners are treated to forty-three minutes of a band clearly making it look easy. Metric has certainly been listening to a fair bit of Muse lately, as the English prog rockers’ influence can be heard throughout the album. In fact, “Youth Without Youth” sounds downright Muse-ian in its rollicking beat. Luckily, the track comes across more as a playful nod to Muse than downright worship.
One of the aspects of this album that works so well is the interplay with the lyrical theme and the music. Synthetica is all about the desire to enjoy life outside of all of the man-made synthetic devices we have created. It hearkens back to a time before status updates, a time when people lived instead of interacting primarily with and through their technology. The irony with the message is the mechanical nature of the band’s sound, but it is an intentional irony: we need the devices to advance as a society, but how much is too much?
There are some minor issues with the album, chief of which is the inclusion of the once-iconic Lou Reed. After the disaster that was Loutallica, listeners are not excited to see sweet old Lou grace his presence on an album. Sadly, his appearance on “The Wanderlust” is just God-awful. It literally made me gag at how horrific it sounded in comparison to the rest of what could surely be a great song. Instead, it is the sort of track that should be skipped if you treasure your ears. The other issue is one that manifests itself with many consistent albums: while no one song is awful, there are not many amazing songs either, which harms the memorability of the album.
Thankfully the other ten songs allow the rest of the band to showcase what made Metric popular in the first place: songs that were made for summer festivals. Sure, Synthetica sounds great through just about any medium, but Metric has crafted an album that just begs to be heard live.