Emily Haines (vocals/synth), James Shaw (guitar/vocals), Joshua Winstead (bass/vocals), Joules Scott Key (drums)
Help I'm Alive, the teaser single off of Fantasies (Metric's forth studio release), poses the question, 'if my life is mine, what shouldn't I do?' This collection of ten tracks is the band's new medicine to the masses in the midst of an ailing music industry. It's because of independent record labels like Last Gang Records that allows bands such as Metric to perform triage on fans so they do not suffer from a lack of good music (I'm sure there's a pill for that somewhere). Ironically, these songs are all about living in the real world and more importantly acting on those fantasies. Metric shreds the self-medicated blindfold of the masses and injects them with pure pharmaceutical rock.
The band is still post-new-wave, but now there are more complex rhythms and riffs on this release that paradoxically is warned about in the song Gimmie Sympathy, which advises you to, 'stay away from the hooks.' The song is not just a simple bait and hook setup, but a high-tech jagged edged lure that pulls fans into its grasp. No band is above the influence (The Beatles or The Rolling Stones), but at the end of the day Metric is neither a product of their influences nor a reflection. This song has an alternate version floating around the internet somewhere that pays homage to decadent musical influences whereas this version on the album pays homage to the artist itself. This is their most radio friendly song to date; you can even bring this one home to mom. That isn't to say that they have lost their edge, there are many other songs on this release that cut to the bone and suck out the tasty marrow.
You just cant get these tunes out of your head; they're contagious. It's like the band has seen what's going on inside of their fans minds. Part of that is true because several tracks (Gimmie Sympathy, Twilight Galaxy and Stadium Love) on this release have been road tested for the past two years, including Satellite Mind. This rock and roll sound wave descends into your cranium and really gets your gray matter going. It may give you some insight of what goes on inside Emily Haines (vocals) head, but then again she's not even sure.
Front Row is an ode to celbutants and our fascination with their lives. The reason that 'burn out stars shine so bright,' is that they are, in essence, black holes formed from their failings, stealing all of the limelight. The highlight of this song is the raw and ruff bass and guitar shredding on this track, contributed by Josh Winstead and James Shaw respectively. The relentless pounding of their instruments mirrors the pace of how some famous people try to keep up with their own notoriety. You are going to need corrective surgery on your feet due to the amount of jumping around you will do when you hear this song.
That ringing in your ears could be that you've been rocking out to this release so much that you've exceeded the recommended decibel level on your iPod, so the band has included some soft songs so that you can give your ears a rest. Collect Call feels like a 4:00 am transatlantic conversation that seeks hope in what may be a doomed relationship. How do you stoke a fire that has long gone out? It's a sobering moment that seems parallel to what Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) were conveying with their song, Go Your Own Way. If you are lucky enough to find someone out there that moves your soul it's in your best interest to keep them interested.
Metric has stepped up to larger venues but still keep their hipster club reputation. Emily's tirade lyrics, though spoken softly, permeate the release and are no less potent than on the closing track Stadium Love.
'Every living thing
Pushed into the ring
Fight it out to wow the crowd
Guess he thought
We could just watch
But no one's getting out.'
This song is the band's arena anthem that channels a National Geographic type of Fight Club where everyone participates. The pounding you get from Joules Scott-Key 's drumming is like a leather strap to your back, leaving track marks. The salve of this song is Emily's brutal cooing of love at the end of the track. This is a great show closer.
This record was conceived on the road, nurtured in exile (Buenos Ayres, New York, London and Toronto), and brought to life out of fanatical love. Metric runs the gambit between mainstream and alternative and warns the 'major labels' not to fuck with them; they can do it themselves. Fantasies is dreams with a little bit of nightmare thrown into the mix; a dystrophic dance diagnosis.
Story by Jackie Lee King ©2009