Metric is a Canadian band from Toronto that is around since 1998. Synthetica is the band's fifth album. The four piece consists of singer Emily Haines who also plays synthesizer and guitar. Lead guitarist James Shaw also plays synthesizer and theramin. Joshua Winstead plays bass and Joules Scott-Key drums. The band is well known in Canada and winner of several awards. Next to that Synthetica hit the number one spot of the US alternative chart.
My first impression is that Metric is influenced by 80ties new wave bands as well as the new romantics and what grew out of these bands. Pet Shop Boys e.g., but also Suede in the second part of its career after Bernard Butler left the band. The Asteroid Galaxy Tour could almost swap singers as Emily Haines is a light version of Mette Lindberg. Haines also has a soft, not powerfull sounding voice, that was given some treatment in the studio as well, but definitely less helium sniffing sounding. 'Lost kitten' comes very close to the Danish band.
The album starts out with two very nice songs. 'Artificial nocturne' is a good pop song. 'Youth without youth' even more so. The vocoder treated chorus works quite well. 'Speed the collapse' is more up-tempo, but doesn't lose anything of the poppy atmosphere of its predecessors. The few songs I like of A-ha spring to mind as 'Speed the collapse' has a 'Take on me' feel. 'Breathing underwater again brings The Petshop Boys to mind. Mind you, non of these bands I would mention in any way as favourites, but I have to admit that each have its moments.
Synthetica is not too good to be true, I'm sorry to say. Just like almost any album I bought in the 80ties, after a few songs the uniformity, the cleanness, the synthness of the music starts working against the album. Whether it was Hazel O'Conner, The Photos, Duran Duran, Spanday Ballet, Joy Division or Tears for Fears I never managed to get though the album. The same is true for Synthetica. Starting in the intro of 'Dream so real' I want to skip to the next song.
All this does not take away from the fact that Synthetica starts off in a very upbeat, poppy and convincing way. Not all the fun is over though. The title song is an uptempo, slightly melancholy song not unlike the better songs of Garbage and Iggy Pop around 1990, as if 'Candy' is sung by Kate Pierson only. 'Clone' has a fairly good chorus, I have to admit. Towards the end Lou Reed even pops up in 'The wanderlust', doing his Lou version of singing, which works in this song.
Let me end with a mention of the album cover. The René Magritte like compostion photo by Justin Broadbent deserves Metric another point, so overall my opinion of Synthetica tends to the positive and that is more than most bands releasing albums in the 80ties (and that includes Lou Reed) can say.
You can order Synthetica here