Metronomy – Love Letters Review

2014 is fast becoming the year of the fourth album and here is another from Metronomy. Love Letters is the follow up from 2011’s English Riviera which was filled with huge melody with at times minimal input and was there best album to date; earning them a Mercury Prize nomination and rightly so. Now the problem for them is where do they go from that glistening piece of Indie pop and electronica. Initial impressions are that they have gone retro in every sense of the word, but Joe Mount has never seemed to be so blatant and obvious with his music so perhaps hold your horses on that note. One interesting factor though, is how thay have largely recorded the album on analogue recording systems and devices. Maybe a clue to their direction or just a bit of experimentation?

The first track named was ‘I’m Aquarius’. If anything it really signals a rapid acceleration of development on the sounds they were producing with their third album. It has a muted and buzzing, deep synths sound with a drum sample layered on top of it. As well as this are the ‘Shoop doop doop ah’s’ that remain throughout the song while the synths build up regardless while culminates in a subtle and partially hidden build up of sound. Joe Mounts vocals work off the synths and are recorded in a very raw and analogue style. They incorporate a slight echo but apart from that they are quite bare in that sense and it works well against the industrial sounds behind him for a more smooth glaze over it all. It is a simple track in principle; however it has been recorded and produced with excellency. ‘Love Letters’ is the title track and it is largely far from what ‘I’m Aquarius’ is about. An epitome of and tribute to 60’s song writing and 70’s musical styles. The divulging organs carry the rhythm while the collective and pop like vocals drive the melody. The bass is deep rooted as an off balance to the other instrumentals and acts as a hook in the chorus along with the organs with their crisper sounds. Joe Mounts verse vocals keep up the pop themes and are perfectly matched the lyrics he is delivery that is enhanced by the slight vulnerability of his vocal. The song oddly shoots off into a muted and rotating world with the instrumentals out of focus and this is neatly manipulated back into the organs sound. A simple ode to the past with ever so subtle hints at modernity. But apart from that, it is just a fun track filled with clever hooks and melodies with infectious harmonies and lyrics. Even if it is complicity nostalgic.

‘The Upsetter’ is the opening track but it seems like a rather poor opening if anything. There has been an attempt to sever the vocals from the music and reconnecting them through an unconventional path; much like what St.Vincent achieved with her recent efforts. The result isn’t as effective though, despite it linking back in the chorus, the verses sound completely lost and confused. ‘Call Me’ works a little better as he is simply connecting the vocals to the instrumentals to the vocals by mimicking them. The song picks up a gradual and electronically charged, deep toned pace which is added to by the percussion and the melodic overtones of Mount’s vocal remain even after the rhythm is reset and the song gradually turns into a late 70’s electro ballad. The analogue recording becoming very evident and an integral part of the recording process. ‘Reservoir’ is perhaps the more direct and bouncy version of ‘Call Me’ with more lighter and feathery synths and the snappy echo of the percussion. The grand cascading synths add to the sweet toothed tinge this song has. Other tracks like ‘Monstrous’ have a slightly out of place hook from the synths and Mount’s harmonic vocal. ‘Month of Sundays’ is a delicately crafted classic guitar track that appeals very much to my preferences. The 60’s guitar group personified with hints of pretty much al of them present. The album is a wonderful nostalgic affair and as it turns out, is a mix of the first two tracks I talked about. In some places there have been attempts to try new angles out on tried and tested method that had varied success. Songs worked best when they were just out right with the nostalgic aspects. It was a shame that any of the new aspects didn’t work and that they were so limited but I think if they work at it and refine it then the next album will be a much bigger improvement, but ditching these ideas wouldn’t go amiss but it’s just the part of the deal with the trial and error of experimenting.

Metronomy – Love Letters = 7/10


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