ALBUM REVIEW: “Fantasies” Metric
With Fantasies Metric has finally written what feels like the logical follow-up to their excellent 2003 debut Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? They’ve ditched the clunky riffs and too-obvious political statements of 2005′s disappointing Live It Out and returned to what they’re best at: writing shimmering, edgy pop songs distinguished by Emily Haines’ saucy purr, clever observations, and effortless cool. While the songs on Fantasies are hugely catchy, much of their charm lies in their restraint. Carefully constructed and often minimal arrangements push the songs forward while letting Haines’ voice take center stage. There are hooks galore, but without the glossy overproduction and bloated arrangements that so often come with the synth-pop territory.
On the charming first single, “Help, I’m Alive,” Haines turns a description of her nervously racing pulse and her heart “beating like a hammer” into a celebration of life. On the equally strong “Gimme Sympathy,” the topic seems to be musical risk-taking (which fits with the fact that Metric self-released the album), with sun-drenched keyboards backing Haines’ quips of “Who would you rather be / The Beatles or the Rolling Stones? / Oh, seriously.” The most dance floor-friendly track, “Gold Guns Girls,” plows through one darkly infectious part after the next as Haines addresses someone who has become numb to excess and asks repeatedly, “Is it ever gonna be enough?” Closer “Stadium Love” aims for rock glory, while the mellow “Twilight Galaxy,” “Collect Call” and “Blindness” provide variety and let Haines’ lovely vulnerability shine through. Fantasies is exactly what Metric needed to get back on top, where they belong.