donderdag 3 april 2014

Love letters. Metronomy

Another band I had never heard of before. Apparently my mistake as Metronomy has already several albums to its name. That Metronomy started out as a dance oriented band could be one of the reasons for this lapse. Love letters is a completely different affair. There are acoustic guitars, subdued singing and subtle, jazzy lead guitar playing in the soft focussed opening song 'The upsetter'. The rhythms are very synthetic. Especially in the second song 'I'm aquarius'. That was a moment that I thought where is this album going to? Rap-sing-song and minimal rhythms? The embellishment is the "shoop-do-do-aah" in the "background". So what happened afterwards?

Love letters is a strange experience for me. Joseph Mount, the driving force behind Metronomy, at the heart of things makes music that is from behind my musical generation gap: anything dance (and rap) that is. His list of remixes e.g., including some of the great names in dance, is long. At the same time other things are going on. First single 'Love letters' is a mix of David Bowie with the background singers, Maaike and José of Gruppo Sportivo. HowAboutBeth, Jaelee Small and Kenzie May Bryant sing in that sort of punky shouting style, while at the same time sounding very strict and severe. A way of singing that reminds me, oddly enough, of nurse Ratched. It is tricks like these that Metronomy has more of on Love letters. The result is that I'm listening to the album with more than a superficial attention span.

And what to think of 'Boy racers'? The sound of 'Popcorn'! This is just too drole. The detail is that there is a real drum, or more specific a cymbal. The main theme is something straight out of the 80s. Very weird and still fun. Not something I need to hear very often after this though. The guitar that kicks in after circa 3.00 minutes supplies exactly the right variation and lifts the song. So well done.

It is David Bowie that is referenced the most though. The Bowie of 'Hunky Dory' is all over Love letters. The way Joseph Mount sings, the way the vocal melodies change, all spells the arty moves of the David Bowie of 1971. The music obviously is another matter. There is some Kraftwerk and its unofficial subsidiary Trio here ('Call me', 'Reservoir') as well. At the same time Metronomy weaves some (trip)pop in its music. Not in an exuberant way, no, subdued and held back, but most songs have very pleasant chord changes that make them very pleasant to listen to. Just listen to 'The most immaculate haircut' (this song must be about Graziano Pellè). The move into the chorus, the organ, the guitar, it is all aimed at pleasing in a very indirect way. The vocals shooting up is Bowie all over again. Most of the vocal melodies on Love letters are interesting and, combined with some musical fun, won me over for the album as a whole.

Love letters is an exception, a sort of album that I in general do not like. Metronomy produced an exception because there are a lot of things going on on Love letters that I do like. It is the combination of the music and the vocal melodies that did the trick with some of the background vocals as icing on the cake.


You can listen to 'Love letters' here.

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