Just over 10 years ago, Metronomy went on a bender. ‘Nights Out’, their breakthrough album and soundtrack to a generation of freshers, was proof that indie, pop and electronic music could exist outside the clatterings of nu-rave, with the wobbly ‘Radio Ladio’ and new-wave aping ‘On Dancefloors’ being as sticky, garish and loveable as the clubs we all stumbled in and out of.
Frontman Joe Mount and the gang celebrated the 10th anniversary with a reissue earlier this year. Joe has said that to transport himself back into that time, he opened up the same laptop he symbolically closed on its completion and revisited the marvellous creation.
Revisiting that time might well have made somewhat of an impact on their new album, perhaps, with their sixth acting as a spiritual sequel. In contrast, 2011’s ‘English Riviera’ was laser-sharp and played up their credentials as indie heroes, before they went ever-so-slightly psychedelic on 2014’s ‘Love Letters’ and rounded the evolution off with the disco-nodding ‘Summer 08’ in 2016.
Their sixth album, ‘Metronomy Forever’, however, taps back into ‘Nights Out’ chaotic energy, but observes lovingly from a distance for a collection that is both mature and playful, but never abandons the other.
Joe Mount, however, is not the same person he was back in that ‘Nights Out’ era. He’s settled down and had kids, moved to the countryside and been called up to work alongside Robyn on her 2018 album ‘Honey’, among others including Jessie Ware and Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts. So the subject matter has changed, too. On ‘Metronomy Forever’, commitment, maturity and marriage loom large. Jubilant church bells ring-out on the opening track and return on ‘Wedding Bells’, this time laced with mid-thirties paranoia and the impending question – shouldn’t I be getting a move on with my life?
They sound like they’re having a lot of fun during it, though. The ramshackle ‘Lately’ and ‘Insecurity’ affirm their rock credentials with sharp synth-lines and crushing guitar parts – think the rawness 2006’s debut album opener, ‘You Could Easily Have Me’ but through a pop-lens. ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ is a delicious 12-bar-blues song via Lipps Inc’s ‘Funky Town’. The funked-up ‘Sex Emoji’ is less a cheeky aubergine via WhatsApp and more a not-so-subtle wink from across the bar. It’s flattering, sure, but you’re not sure you want it to happen again.
Speaking to NME, Mount joked that the best way to describe the new album is “pretentious” and “long”. Though ‘Metronomy Forever’ certainly is not the former – their music has often born out of unfiltered joy and love for pop, despite what the naysayers reckon – it is slightly overwrought in places. Clocking in at 55-minutes, and fulfilling the mixtape framework Mount set himself, some of the selections work better than others. ‘Lying Low’ is a murky instrumental that sits nicely to Floating Points and ‘Miracle Rooftop’ dabbles in French Touch, though the experimental ‘Forever Is A Long Time’ and ‘Upset My Girlfriend’ do seem to linger for an eternity.
‘Metronomy Forever’ is, in many ways, remarkable: the band have proved their longevity and ability to reinvent, retool and still maintain their love and ability to pen stellar pop songs. We’re already looking forward the sequel.