Album Review: Metronomy – Summer 08

By on Monday, 25th July 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Metronomy Summer 08 album coverIf your musical tastes run to electropop, chances are you’re a fan of Metronomy, Tom Vek, or both. Tom Vek appeals to the nerdy, cerebral, introverted electronic fan because he’s the genuine article. He doesn’t put up a front, doesn’t pretend to be someone or something else. His music can be dissonant, with vocals jarring, often robotic. Joseph Mount, the mastermind behind Metronomy, makes his band a different kind of animal. At least in more recent years, the Metronomy sound has become more radio-friendly, leading to popular and critical acclaim (2011’s ‘The English Riviera’ was nominated for a Mercury Prize). While you can hear the self-deprecation in Vek’s songs on ‘Luck’, there often is a feeling on Metronomy tracks that Mount is being silly, smirking like a schoolboy at you.

On the beat happy ‘Old Skool’, the earliest taster of new album ‘Summer 08’, Mount’s voice mimicking the mesmerising bass line is the sonic equivalent of him with his hands on his hips, mocking you. Is the song meant to be cutting social commentary on rich kids and their shenanigans in the city? Never mind what it’s about. It’s an incredibly infectious banger, with its glitches and record scratches courtesy of Beastie Boys collaborator and turntablist Mix Master Mike. While Mount has always been at the helm, in the director’s chair if you will for Metronomy, this is oddly the first Metronomy album since 2006 debut ‘Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe)’ solely recorded in the studio and produced by Mount himself.

On ‘Summer 08’, Mount indulges his more weird and wonderful fantasies in this suggested sequel to 2008’s ‘Nights Out’. The oddest thing about this album is that while it’s unashamedly full of retro touches and appears to be looking backwards in time, it’s also strangely addictive left in his hands. Mount shines brightest when he approaches the genre of pop, even for a brief moment. The exemplary ‘Night Owl’ is a tour de force, where a less is more approach with an underlying hypnotic beat reminiscent of Fun Boy Three’s version of ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’. One set of sinister synths buzz, while another goes off and wiggles around in a chamber pop tangent.

As you listen on, there are plenty of moments on ‘Summer 08’ that could be easily classed as weird. Wonky opening track ‘Back Together’ might have qualified as art rock if it wasn’t for the sci-fi sound effects and joyful vocal bops. Whiny synths rule the day on ‘Miami Logic’; luckily, they aren’t so whiny that you’re tempted to turn the song off. ’16 Beat’, which Mount himself describes as “sweet” in the lyrics, appears to be a love letter to the most simple and basic drum pattern there is. Deceptively simple, yet easily manipulated into other forms for variety’s sake, it’s a good analogy to what Mount does with Metronomy releases and also specifically on this number.

It’s important to note that while like ‘Pip Paine…’, this is solely Mount’s artistic expression, getting by with a little help from his friends isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Swedish electropop queen Robyn guest duets on ‘Hang Me Out to Dry’, suggesting that if Mount ever gave up Metronomy to write for other artists, he’s got another (and dare I say it, more lucrative) career waiting in the wings. In the meantime though, let’s soak up the weird and wonderful as long as he wants to experiment and Mount wants to wink at us, thinking to himself, “everything goes my way”.

7/10

‘Summer 08’, the fifth studio album from Joe Mount and Metronomy, is out now on Because Music. For more coverage of Metronomy on TGTF, go here.

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