It’s called the big summer record and this is how it’s done.
Metric have been working the periphery of the pop/rock/alternative landscape for a decade and began breaking through in with 2009′s Fantasies. That record spawned a tremendous single — “Help I’m Alive” — but was otherwise short on substance, favoring extended vamping and riffing over actual songs.
Turns out, these guys (and frontwoman Emily Haines) were just warming up. Full of lean, killer songs all polished to summery perfection, Synthetica takes no effort to love. In fact, it’s probably the kind of record that taught you to love music in the first place.
For the uninitiated, Metric is a Canadian band that plays guitar rock with a new wave, grunge, power pop and electronic influence. And for reference, Synthetica ekes out territory where Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay and Garbage overlap: hummable melodies and big choruses with a slight edge.
“I’m just as fucked-up as they say,” Emily Haines sings in “Artificial Nocturne.” As opening lines go, they don’t get much more attention-grabbing.
What follows are 10 flawless tracks and one dud, including a razor-sharp teenage riot anthem, “Youth Without Youth,” a spacey manifesto on modern pop in “Dreams So Real,” and the utterly perfect “Breathing Underwater” — which is a massive hit right now in a parallel universe.
Nothing here is groundbreaking or too profound, but that’s by design rather than oversight as these compact, expertly crafted songs blend seamlessly into one another.
About that dud. It’s “The Wanderlust” and it’s aimless and features a croaking Lou Reed and it’s track 10 and so easily skipped as to be irrelevant. Everything else on Synthetica is a bullseye.