Metric is a band from Toronto, Ontario, which was started by Emily Haines and James Shaw, who are also members of Broken Social Scene. Since 2001, Metric has recorded 5 studio albums, Old World Underground Where Are You? being their break out album with Dead Disco.
Since then, Metric has gone on to develop their new wave inspired rock into something more electronic. Let It Out was more of a traditional indie rock album with songs like ‘Monster Hospital’ and ‘Empty,’ while Fantasies and Synthetica were more synth-heavy with songs like ‘Help I’m Alive’ and ‘Breathing Underwater.’
Metric has released 3 tracks from Pagans in Vegas onto their website, and it seems the band is expanding further upon their synth and electronic influences. There isn’t much in terms of traditional guitar or drum sounds on any of these tracks, and, like Tegan and Sara, it appears as if they’re taking a step back from their indie rock roots and taking a step forward into electronic music.
The first track off the site, ‘Too Bad So Sad,’ opens like a 1980’s arcade game soundtrack. The synths are heavy, while Emily’s voice is a bit more aggressive than her usual subdued delivery. The lyrics seem to portray finding a sense of self, or trying to get out of a certain funk.
“Get me out of this state I’m in,” Emily sings. “Got something trapped inside.”
The chorus seems to be conjuring an almost sarcastic tone, like Emily is telling herself: Too bad, so sad, pick yourself up and try again. The song has a light-hearted tune – “Oh yeah, whoo hoo! Too bad whoo hoo! So sad whoo hoo!” will be stuck in your head for a while afterwards.
The second track, ‘Cascades,’ is another synth-heavy song, but with more electronic, Daft Punk-like aspects to it. Emily’s vocals have been either recorded or edited to sound robotic. The song is slower in tempo but provides heavy atmosphere. It is out of scope of Metric’s typical sound as they tend to fuse their new wave inspired synths with indie rock guitar riffs to provide more of a melody. This song is far from melodic, but not a bad change of pace from a band who tends to get a bit repetitive with their sound.
The final track and first single, ‘The Shade,’ is surprisingly bland in comparison to the previous songs. It feels like a less atmospheric Purity Ring song. The ‘bleep bloop’ synth sample that opens the track is highly distracting when brought back for the chorus. Unlike ‘Cascades,’ this song is comparable to their previous work on Synthetica, but without the strength of emotion or instrumentation of those songs. Emily’s voice is almost drowning amongst the instrumentals of the chorus, which is unfortunate because the lyrics paint a beautiful landscape. It’s certainly not a bad song from Metric, but it seems safe in comparison to the other tracks.
Upon listening to the 3 songs, it appears Metric is going a different direction from previous albums. To long and loyal fans, this might be disappointing. However, I think it’s important for bands to expand and experiment with new sounds and ideas. Metric has been a band since 1998, and since then they’ve gone from pure indie rock to synth pop, so it will be interesting to see if their style drastically changes with Pagans in Vegas, and how this album will affect them on the next.
Fans can download the full release on September 18, 2015. Let me know what you think about Metric’s new album in the comments below!