Monday, 23 May 2011

The English Reviera - Metronomy

It's gotten to the stage where just having the label of Indie Pop is enough to turn me off a band. There hasn't been a stand out album from the genre for a few years now and every album sounds exactly like the last, if even a little worse. It's depressing really, a genre based of innovation stagnating at such a fast rate... I'm impressed with my own observation there, it's very poignant; at least, that is until Metronomy came along and released one of the best Indie Pop albums I've ever set my ears to. The bastards.

This isn't a genre known for being deep: it's saturated with (not-so-)witty one liners, easy-to-strum-to guitar parts and too many synthesizers to count. Truth be told, it never needed to be deep; all that ever mattered was making a song that made you smile and was easy to listen to. With "The English Riviera", Metronomy don't exactly break the mold, but they do provide an incredibly solid set of songs that will stay with you long after you expect them to.

One of the hardest things to do with an album such as this is to find a tone and to stick to it. Too often there will be an array of obligatory songs (an instrumental, a ballad, an acoustic/piano one etc.) that usually come across as uninspired, ,present only for the sake of filling out space and at worse completely jarring. Metronomy create a tone somewhere in between calm and wistful. Explosions of electronic-energy are followed by lulls of bass-guitar driven outros. "The English Riviera" is certainly still capable of surprising you, but for the most part it will stick, albeit sometimes loosely, to this tone.

I'm not sure how Metronomy mastered the art of making songs so catchy, yet not annoying in the slightest, but pretty much every song on the album will be repeating itself in your head for a good few hours after each listen. Some of the synth parts seem somewhat europop-inspired in this respect, though again it isn't annoying, just incredibly simple and catchy. The prime example of this is "Corinne", initially it's driven by a bass line but before you're given a chance to relax into it you're hit by a constrained barrage of an oscillating synth and sci-fi sound effects, as well as the memorable chorus lyric of "I've got my heart tied up/ I've got my heart in a bind/ She just wants to dance all the time".

This isn't a formula that Metronomy stick to, in fact only a handful of the songs even use synths. The songs range all the way from sad and serious, with female guest vocals, to loud and energetic. The stand-out song, however, is "Love Underlined". It bucks the trend of ending on a slow, sad note by being, in many respects, a dance song. The build up, accompanied by lyrics of "We could never be in love/ but when you go you're all I'm thinking of", is sublime and possibly the most memorable portion of "The English Riviera".

The most remarkable aspect of this album is that even a month after release the songs still appeal to me. The tendency is for them to become bland after a few listens, but that couldn't be further form the case here. If anything, many of the songs have gotten better with multiple listens, notably "Corinne" and "She Wants". "The English Riviera" shows just what can be done with Indie Pop, and firmly places my faith back into the genre.


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