Review: Metronomy – “The English Riviera”


Metronomy has anyways been one of my favorite acts, much in the same category as Hot Chip and Friendly Fires (only weirder and less commercial). Their single “Heartbreaker” is one of my top 10 played songs. But for everything the single had in it, the rest of the album, “Nights Out,” fell flat. Some songs held up to a good level, but for the most part the rest of the album was disappointingly forgettable.

This is not the case with their most recent album, “The English Riviera.” We find that Metronomy has grown leaps and bounds in maturity. The album feels cohesive, yet remains a vast array of sounds and influences that really speak to how hard the threesome has been working since losing a band member. It’s almost as if his departure has, in some way, helped the band. This is an album I prefer to listen to straight through – much like “Plastic Beach” by Gorillaz. It just flows.

“The English Riviera” starts us out just there – The English Riviera. A rather haunting duo of violins plays an oddly sad piece, as if to wave off a friend lost at sea. But that sentiment is abruptly shaken off and Metronomy gets to what it’s best known for – quirky, electronic, cool songs. A deep bass slowly replaces the violins playing on top of wailing seagulls. The track “We Broke Free” blends slowly from the riviera, and hits with our first taste of the new sound of Metronomy. It’s an insanely sexy and sleek song – one you imagine walking down a wet street at night listening to. The song has a real sense of funk infused from the initial bass line that really keeps it moving.

The bass line rests and “Everything Goes My Way” starts up. An almost Feist-like quality to it, it’s about as indie folk as Metronomy can sound – and it sounds natural – in the way “Nights Out” didn’t at times. It’s a happy and cute song too, sure to catch the eye of some soundtracks (a la 500 Days Of Summer).

Anna leads us out to “The Look” – one of the best singles so far this year. This is “Heartbreaker” with a heart of gold. The song is instantly danceable, yet so rich in unique quality and immersive sound that it’s hard not to be sad listening to this song. Easily the best on the album. Check it out below.

On to lead single, “She Wants.” Initially, I did not get this single. I didn’t really understand it outside the context of the album. It was an OK song, but it just didn’t grab me the way “The Look” did, and I think that’s the main problem. Inside the album though, it’s a perfect blend of the songs it’s bookended by.

“Trouble” is the most impressive Metronomy song to date. It’s a vision of what Metronomy would sound like in a 1950’s high school dance. It starts out calmly, much like Buckethead’s “Colma,” and falls perfectly into a very romantic song for Metronomy. It’s refreshing to hear not only this side of Metronomy, but already halfway into the album, so many.

Third single “The Bay” is weirdly addictive. The combinations of sounds they come up with are so odd and intriguing at times, they welcome you to come figure them out. By the time you think you understand their angle, the slick versus rush in. The song takes on a dance club vibe and gets you moving after the rest of “Trouble.”

Next up: “Loving Arm.” Not the best song, not the worst. The beginning is too empty at the start, I wanted more from the production. It just fell flat.

“Corinne” finds things getting back to greatness. The chorus is a lot of fun and can really stick with you. Joseph chants “I got my heart tied up…” and you can’t help but move a bit. Production is great, and it’s another sound that is great to hear Metronomy exploring.

“Some Written” finds the album slowing down a lot, as if the tide has gone out and the sun is setting. It grounds the album with a more subdued sound. It’s still got the weird Metronomy flourishes, but it’s timed and placed well in the album and picks you up slightly towards the end – leaving you relaxed and happy.

“Love Underlined” however was severely disappointing and should not have an underline, it should have a line through it. Would have been better to have just left it off. Sad, but overall a great album.

The updated and matured Metronomy sound is really refreshing. The time and effort they put into this album clearly shows, and the added attention to detail on the production is impressive. Overall one of my favorite albums so far this year.


Metronomy – The Look by metronomyUK

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March 2011
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