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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Metronomy - Love Letters Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 03.11.2014

My 2014 Reviews:
Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust EP [8.0]
Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0]
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0]
Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0]
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0]
You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5]
Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5]
Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0]
Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5]
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0]
The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0]
Skindred - Kill the Power [7.0]
Katy B - Little Red [9.0]
The Family Rain - Under the Volcano [7.0]
Clare Maguire - Clare Maguire EP [7.0]
Behemoth - The Satanist [7.0]
Wild Beasts - Present Tense [10.0]
Beck - Morning Phase [9.5]
Issues - Issues [7.0]
Fanfarlo - Let's Get Extinct [4.0]
The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever [3.5]
Indica - Shine [5.0]
Grand Magus - Triumph and Power [6.0]
Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide [9.0]
††† (Crosses) - ††† (Crosses) [6.5]
Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron [8.0]
Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0]
Silversun Pickups - The Singles Collection [8.0]
The Fray - Helios [4.0]
Kid Cudi - Satellite Flight: Journey to Mother Moon [9.0]
Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0]
We Are Scientists - TV En Francais [6.5]
Major Lazer - Apocalypse Soon [2.0]
Rick Ross - Mastermind [7.5]
Real Estate - Atlas [8.5]
Comeback Kid - Die Knowing [7.0]
Reverend and the Makers ThirtyTwo [8.5]
Broken Bells - After the Disco [6.0]
Blood Red Shoes - Blood Red Shoes [5.5]
Metronomy - Love Letters [9.0]

Metronomy is:
Joe Mount – vocals
Oscar Cash – guitar, keyboards
Benga Adeleken – bass
Anna Prior – drums, vocals

MetronomyLove Letters

Track listing:
1. The Upsetter
2. I'm Aquarius
3. Monstrous
4. Love Letters
5. Month of Sundays
6. Boy Racers
7. Call Me
8. The Most Immaculate Haircut
9. Reservoir
10. Never Wanted
Running time: 41:41

“And back out on the riviera / It got so cold at night,” mourns Metronomy main man Joe Mount on album-opener “The Upsetter.” Love Letters is album number four, and the follow-up to the monumental breakthrough The English Riviera. That record was robbed of the Mercury Prize in 2011 by PJ Harvey, but it was a record that cemented Metronomy as a force to be reckoned with, and it also served to showcase what a phenomenal songwriter Joe Mount is, capable or writing multi-faceted genre-bending pop songs that appeals to the musical snobs and the casual Top 40 listeners alike. Take for example the understated lead single from Love Letters, “I'm Aquarius.” It's an new wave gem, with significant lo-fi influences and layered with a plethora of intricate percussion sounds. But try listening to it and not having “shoo-do-do-ahh” stuck in your for head for hours on end, and good luck not getting sucked up in the rapture of hearing Mount insist “I'm Aquarius” as the song reaches its climax.

The gentle horns on the albums title track serve as a complete awakening for the band, caressing the listener like the dawning of a new day before exploding into an orchestra of bouncing keys and bass-y beats. Joe Mount is at his stomping best on the track's chorus, but it's the infectious vocal of Anna Prior as she croons the song's titular line. Though it's four tracks in, the song really announces the record as something more than the pleasant subtleties of previous singles. This is an album full of bounce, full of swagger and released by a band that has well and truly come into their own and flourished in the last few years. It's reeks of confidence and maturity, a record that is bound once again for Mercury-nomination. And like the numerous encores of “Love Letters,” the album never lets up once it gets going. It's brimming with these massive brass sounds throughout that punctuated the artsy song-writing ability of Mount that'll no doubt get many a festival crowd whipped up into a frenzy over the coming months.

The jangling opening guitars of “Month of Sundays” shimmer in amongst the album's middle-ground, and showcases how well Mount can create a perfect blend of pop sensibilities with enough attention to detail to appease the Pitchfork crowd. The track's soulful backing vocal, again from Miss Prior, establishes the band's love affair with all things sixties on this record. The Motown influences of the album's singles is staggering but pleasantly surprising. While the band continues its use of electrifying synths and keyboards and any number of drum machines, Love Letters highlights a much more retro sound than its predecessor. Mount's ear for a chorus keeps the band firmly routed in the present day though.

And lyrically, the band is as strong as ever. The record's opener belts out a desperate “I've got to beam my message to ya,” throughout as we begin to explore themes of love, break-ups and communication. If the record's title shows the band have done their homework for this one – Joe Mount is well aware that nobody writes love letters anymore, but it underpins his obsession with the 60s that is prominent throughout. Then of course you have Mount warning “hold your hair back / If you feel unwell,” showing that even in the modern age chivalry isn't quite dead. “Call me, Valentine” pleads Mount, as he seemingly mourns the loss of another relationship on “Call Me,” another understated little ditty with some wonderful electronic sounds throughout. It's not all doom and gloom though, as he insists “we can get better / we can do anything,” on the track's middle-part, though he says it so many times you wonder who he's trying to convince. The record presents break-ups as something that should be celebrated as much as something that should evoke grief, but Love Letters is so soaked in psychedelica it's charmed by an awkward schizophrenic ambience.

In “The Most Immaculate Haircut,” Mount channels Bowie in some awfully delicate crooning before we hear the sound of someone jumping in a peaceful water before the track's victory lap. And it's in this track that we really become immersed in Mount's fragile psyche, leading to the wonderfully infectious “Reservoir.” More pulsating synths and drum machines are on the menu as Mount gushes “we should never say that we went this far / we should take a trip to the reservoir.” It's more metaphors about breaking up and love, but it's done in such a relatable way you can't help but to feel a certain affection for Mount and his lovelorn experiences. The keys on this track definitely keep things light, as they do for the record's duration, and you can't help but come out of the whole thing with feelings of hope and joy, and not pain and regret that break up records typically stink of.

Metronomy - “I'm Aquarius”

The 411: It's always been difficult to define what kind of music Metronomy makes, and what exactly Joe Mount is trying to achieve with his song-writing, but it becomes clear on Love Letters that the band is happy to simply do their own thing and let others be the judge. Love Letters has as many trippy odes to decades past as it does 2014 anthems, but the whole thing is brilliantly underpinned by brilliantly engineered song-writing that is unmistakeably Metronomy. Mount and Prior both bring the vocal goods, and you have to credit both the electrical and brass elements of the record for bringing so much to the table. Love Letters probably isn't as accessible as it's predecessor, but it possesses an addictive quality that will keep you coming back to it all year. In “I'm Aquarius,” “Love Letters” and “The Upsetter,” Mount has written his masterpiece, and the hold together an album of three, sometimes four-dimensional tracks that make you think as much as they make you dance.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend


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