Prior to the release of the band’s fifth studio album, frontwoman Emily Haines declared to her fans that “Synthetica” is about “forcing yourself to confront what you see in the mirror when you finally stand still long enough to catch a reflection…about being able to identify the original in a long line of reproductions. It’s about what is real vs. what is artificial.” With this in mind, the Canadian indie rock band brings forth a set of songs that explores how to be alive outside a world dominated by false senses. Metric has always been controlled and precise when it comes to their sound, from guitarist James Shaw to drummer Joules Scott-Key, Metric has distinguished itself from other bands of its genre by creating melodies that are bold and rebellious, yet incredibly raw and dark.
Though a little less versatile than their 2008 predecessor “Fantasies,” “Synthetica” in no way lacks the lyrical intensity that has defined Metric and Emily Haines. The album opens with “Artificial Nocturne” where Haines sings in her signature contralto, “I’m just as fucked up as they say / I can’t fake the daytime / I’ve found an entrance to escape into the dark,” setting the tone for the rest of the tracks as dealing with escaping from a false world and dealing with reality. Lou Reed is featured on the track “The Wanderlust,” where the duo croons, “Where I’ve been I’m bound to leave behind / All device and all disease was mine…I never wanted to go home / Wanderlust will carry us on.”
While Metric succeeds in carrying a common theme through the album, certain songs such as “Clone” and “Breathing Underwater” seem a bit too polished and effortless, becoming forgettable. After the success of “Fantasies,” it’s only natural that the band return with a bigger and sexier sound. Metric is no less addicting to listen to, yet the overall effect of “Synthetica” isn’t as mind-blowing nor as edgy as “Fantasies.” It certainly is a pleasure to hear Metric again, especially the single, “Youth Without Youth” being particularly catchy. It’s always a breath of relief to know that the band hasn’t lost its touch when it comes to goading a wide multitude of emotions from their listeners.
Metric sets high standards for themselves, and they have so far been able to reach all of them – reaching, though not exceeding. “Synthetica” truly shines as one of the best albums released so far this year. Emily Haines’ long-admired ability to shift her tone from rebellious to sweet sex kitten and back to angst-driven coupled with catchy rhythmic guitars and choppy drums has once again propelled Metric into the center stage of indie rock.