Metronomy – ‘Summer 08’ Review

Mount returns both fearless and eccentric on bold new album

Metronomy do a strong line in eccentricity. Frontman and mastermind Joe Mount once wrote an album, 2008’s ‘Nights Out’, about having a bad time in his home town of Totnes in Devon. Long-term fans will remember their gloriously titled 2006 debut ‘Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe)’. Meanwhile, Mount’s 2011 breakthrough ‘The English Riviera’ was off-centre electronica at its very finest and, as the name suggested, in the best tradition of British pop whimsy.

Still, the concept behind the follow-up to 2014’s Motown-inspired ‘Love Letters’ sounds like it might test even Mount’s reserves of creativity. It sees him musing on the price of success, specifically his first experiences of it in the summer of the title. Is there anything less interesting than listening to a musician moan about the trials of being famous? Possibly not, but Mount somehow manages to pull it off.

The album opens with the jerky post-punk guitars and discordant backing vocals of ‘Back Together’, which sees our put-upon hero dreaming about being reunited with someone he once had lunch with. It’s all very Sparks. Then the song explodes into a synth-powered sunburst of melody and all worries that ‘Summer 08’ might be some dreary Streets-style whine about tour buses, hotels and being interviewed are dispelled.

‘Old Skool’ is something to do with Mount, who lived in East London in 2008, being jealous of posh musicians who lived in West London. “You keep your friends / I’ll keep my friends” he waspishly intones over a fluttering electronic loop.

Meanwhile, Robyn brings some Swedish pop inflection to ‘Hang Me Out To Dry’ and the result is an alternation between melancholy verse – all minor key digital washes – and the pulsing wall of noise chorus. The album’s best moment is ‘Mick Slow’, which sees Mount channelling the smeared, fretless bass style of ’80s pop intellectuals Japan on a genuinely moving song about missing people.

Downsides? There really aren’t any. Mount has done it again. He could write music about the impact of Brexit on the UK’s trade with China and make it sound amazing. He’s that good.