Appropriately enough, ‘Synthetica’ is as synthetic as its name suggests.
Mom & Pop Music / Metric Music International, 2012
6.5 / 10.0
According to lead singer Emily Haines, Metric’s new album is called Synthetica because it’s about artificiality, and living in a world of synthetic reproductions. So perhaps it’s ironic that Synthetica sticks to the formula of Metric’s previous albums so well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good formula. I’m a huge fan of Metric’s previous effort, Fantasies, for example, with its dreamy synths, emotional lyrics and pounding drums. But I think its reasonable to have expected something braver from the Canadian band when they’re confronting such pertinent, political subject matter, rather than just a flashback to past glories.
“Youth Without Youth” is perhaps the most political song on offer here, with its auto-tuned chorus line, and lyrics about living a life of crime and violence – “Throw the brick through the windowpane / Double dutch till they stop the game / Till the cops show up / Hand cuff stunned / They let us go but we lost one“. It’s exactly the kind of song you’d expect from a band operating in a post-Occupy movement, post-London riots world. Sadly, the rest of the album doesn’t strike as hard as this single – it’s mostly just mindless, mid-tempo, easily consumable indie electro-rock. “Lost Kitten” and “Clone” are pure bubblegum pop songs that sound like they could have easily been ripped from any odd teen movie soundtrack, and “Wanderlust” features some confusing guest vocals from Lou Reed. Apparently he’s a fan of the band, and Emily Haines approached him about a collaboration after they played a Neil Young tribute concert together. Who would have guessed it?
In the end, Synthetica isn’t a bad album. It’s still very solid, listenable stuff, with all the swirling electronica and drum-machine beats we’ve come to expect from the Canadian group. Fans of the band will lap it up – it’s clear they’ve been hungry for new Metric material for a long time, judging by the level of participation in the web-based scavenger hunt the band arranged to promote the record. But personally, I would have enjoyed myself more if Metric had bothered to expand their sonic palate, try something dangerous and new, and break out of their long-standing formula.
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