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Synthetica

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Album Review

After the commercial breakthrough of their 2009 album Fantasies, it would seem kind of unfair to ask Metric to do anything differently on their next outing. That album perfectly took their usual tuneful blend of hooky new wave and spooky synth pop and blew it up to stadium-huge levels while adding more emotional content than ever before. It was a trick that seemed so improbable in the first place that it would be crazy for the group not to try re-creating it on Synthetica. So they did. The album has the same glossy textures, gigantic sounding arrangements, huge choruses, and open-hearted vocals as Fantasies did, but keeps the instantly memorable songs and exposed emotions intact. It also retains the same balance of super hooky songs and gloomy ballads, hitting you in the gut one minute and sending you off cheerfully singing along the next. (It's the same kind of trick Garbage were able to pull off in their prime, and Metric sound very much like a widescreen Garbage throughout Synthetica.) The success that band has achieved hasn't exactly healed Emily Haines' wounds, and her vocals have the same powerfully aching quality that has always been there — they cut through the music and right to the heart of the listener. Songs like "Artificial Nocturne" and "Dreams So Real" hit very, very hard thanks to her vocals. Elsewhere, she shows a ton of range on tracks as varied as the dramatic "Speed the Collapse," the creepily cute "Lost Kitten," and the dreamily desolate "Nothing But Time." The band provides capable backing throughout, framing her voice in a soft web of sound and creating modern pop that goes down easily but never bores. Only the unwelcome appearance of Lou Reed on "The Wanderlust" breaks the mood of the record and brings it down to earth a bit. Even with his warbling croak gumming things up, the song is a highlight on an album full of them. That Metric were able to follow up their best record with another just as good is quite an achievement, hopefully something they will do again and again.

Customer Reviews

Not going to bandwagon because...

God this is disappointing. They had so much time to work on this record and this the result? Predictable Synth beat, repetitive lyrics over and over; lyrics which are empty and really make no sense. What is the need to repeat the same 5 words over and over? We got it the first 3 times thanks. Loved the last album by Metric but this is terrible in comparison.

A Fantastic Musical Journey

Metric have created a great record. The Reflection instrumentals are genuine and moving. Reflection #6 is a happy go-lucky little jingle.The album has many great pop sensibilities. I hear 80's synths, guitars that chime and great rhythms. Youth Without Youth hasn't left rotation on my MacBook & iphone since I got it. Great work from Metric !!!

Their worst album

Coming from a big Metric fan, I have to admit it: Synthetica is Metric's worst album.

While the actual songs are suitably varied, Emily's normally memorable lyrics are notably forgettable. Songs on Synthetica sound "nice" rather than having any impact. I have listened to the album 5 times, and few melodies or hooks stick in my mind. Live it Out, Old World Underground and Fantasies were instantly memorable alt-pop, but Synthetica sounds disconnected and at times, bored. The rebellion on "Youth Without Youth" sounds absolutely canned and called-in compared to earlier work like "I.O.U." and "Handshakes". "Lost Kitten" captures some of "Grow Up and Blow Away" spark, but the rest of songs would sound like album filler on any other Metric album.

My friend nailed it on the head this morning when he said "This sounds like Metric covering forgettable Coldplay b-sides." Ouch.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Metric are a band with an eclectic, adventurous outlook, whose music encompasses elements of synth pop, new wave, dance-rock, and electronica and whose hometown has vacillated between Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, and London over the course of the group's existence. Metric's story began in 1998, when vocalist/keyboardist Emily Haines met guitarist James Shaw in Toronto, Canada. Although born in New Delhi, Haines -- the daughter of Paul Haines, a Canadian-American poet best known for his...
Full bio
Synthetica, Metric
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