Album review: Metric's 'Synthetica'
Emily Haines calmly declares at the end of “Synthetica” that she once “wanted to be part of something,” but it isn’t a regret so much as a revelation. Now on album No. 5, “Synthetica” closer “Nothing but Time” is sweetly opulent electro-rock, the grown-up realization that there’s no rush, and a sign the band has moved well beyond its once ice-cold restlessness.
Metric’s lyrical concerns are increasingly philosophical, and the band grapples with big questions with earnestness — and, in the case of “Breathing Underwater,” sometimes overly simple “I’m the wave, you’re the kite” metaphors. Yet Metric has become a consistent source for bang-up melodies, and the title track is all sugary guitars and darting digital effects, having fun with the song’s themes of pop-technology overload.
“Clone,” in which Haines shrugs off her mistakes, presents cheery, Top-40 synths and then tempers them with a languid rhythm. The album’s glittery sheen isn’t always so pretty however. “The Wanderlust,” the album’s collaboration with Lou Reed, is a schmaltzy dud, as Haines amps up the cuteness for her role in this rom-com mismatch.
Focus instead on the frisky, ping-pong groove of “Lost Kitten” and the whirring, melodic, crystallizing atmospheres of “Dreams So Real.” It’s here where the sense of idealism that hovers beneath the album’s surface is brought to the fore, as Haines wonders if she has the ability to persuade listeners to “believe in the power of songs, to believe in the power of girls.” For the most part, that appears within her grasp.
Metric Music International / Mom & Pop
Three stars (Out of four)
-- Todd Martens