The sunny days seem to have grown deceptively cold outside Metronomy’s window. While their 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated album, The English Riviera, was an ode to British shorelines and sandy beaches, their fourth full-length album, Love Letters, shows the Devon-based quartet at their most nostalgic yet. Full of inventiveness, the record noticeably tamps the tempos in order to reveal a more intriguing, if less catchy and quirky, melange of melodies that disclose yet another facet from Metronomy’s array of sounds.
The first single, I’m Aquarius, (released in a most fitting way via the Night Sky app), is a minimalistic, lo-fi, synth pop tune that shows leader Joe Mount’s evolution without a loss of identity, allowing fans to continue the romance (even if those repetitive “Shoo-doop-doop-ahs” could try the patience of even the most forbearing out there). The second taste came from Love Letters, a playful glam-rock piece that finds drummer Anna Prior’s catchy chorus intonations accompanied by trumpets, sax and tambourines. Now the full album comes so we can see if Metronomy can successfully continue with their moody movements.
The album begins with the soothing and melodic track, The Upsetter, which immediately sets a nostalgic, love-inflicted mood reinforced by Mount’s fragile vocals. This state of mind will continue throughout the record, and evoke the wistful atmosphere of acts like the Beach Boys and the Zombies, but done so in a way that remains Metronomy’s own. Monstrous features a haunting harpsichord and yearning lovesick pleas like, “Promise that you’ll follow me, I couldn’t stand to be alone.”
Month Of Sundays is another catchy indie-rock gem with plentiful hooks, brilliantly followed by the quirky instrumental disco piece, Boy Racers, that pleasantly ends the first half of the record and gets the listener ready for the next. The Most Immaculate Haircut, with its killer melody, is now in the running for the most original jealousy anthem of the year. “Never Wanted” is another heartfelt track that features grief, resignation and flimsy falsettos that dispatches listeners in the same tone as they were welcomed ten tracks earlier, but with an optimistic note: “It gets better.”
Love Letters, was recorded at Toe Rag Studios in London, famous for their vintage analogue facilities (the White Stripe’s Elephant was birthed there), an interesting, uh, analog to Metronomy’s modern, forward-thinking melodies that result from a clearly meticulous creative process. What was once an instrumental electronic project has now, in the hands of Joseph Mount, become an inventive, layered, modern pop act, perfectly capable of standing on its own and defending its place among the genre’s very best.