On Metronomy’s sixth record, the aptly titled ‘Metronomy Forever’, the Joe Mount-helmed endeavour has found the sweet-spot between the early days of being a one-man bedroom-project and a fully-fledged band. And that album title; it invokes our protagonist peering back at his earlier work, referring to the sounds he forged by himself, alone with a computer pumping out quirky, indie-dance oddities. But it also casts an eye on the present and into the future, to the sonics of now and beyond. Across 17 tracks ‘Metronomy Forever’ has a sketchbook feel to it; instrumentals are strewn liberally amongst tales of self-exploration. Some of the themes could be seen as banal and mundane; Mount taps into relatable topics such as male insecurity, relationships, weddings (more on that in a bit), and err…erm… emojis but wrapped in the outfit’s weird and wonderful funkiness, the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary.
For a project that was conceived 20 years ago, it’s no wonder that Mount sounds very much at ease on ‘Metronomy Forever’; reflecting on his new record and his place in the world, Mount states “What happens is when you’re making music and you enter a world where you have achieved some sort of celebrity, no matter how large or small, you start to think about yourself in terms of legacy and what you’re going to leave behind. And then you realise that’s limited to the interest people have in you. In the end I feel completely comfortable with it. The less importance you place in any art, the more interesting it can become in a way”.
That jerky, slightly awkward, slightly funky sound that made second album ‘Nights Out’ so adorable can be found at the heart of ‘Metronomy Forever’ along with ‘The English Rivera’, Metronomy’s breakthrough album and the first as an operating band. It’s this amalgamation of old and new, the organic and synthetic that gives the album its freshness but also a knowing familiarity that will be lapped up by earlier adopters of Mount’s work. There’s always been a playfulness to Metronomy and this thread is continued throughout the record; ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’s plinky-plonky toy-like synths convey a kitsch appeal, with Mount declaring “she’s bubbling like a kettle/she’s the sting in the nettle/she’s the drummer in my metal/band” with the “band” part delivered with a deliberate pause. ‘Walking In The Dark’ takes us back to ‘The English Rivera’ with it’s slowed- down fairground nuances and carousel burbles. Whilst the track is languid in its gait, Mount tugs at the heart strings with “I’m here if you need me/I’m here if you need me girl/just holler if you need me”. Things get wonderfully silly on ‘Sex Emoji’ as clattering percussion populates skittering electronics and Mount’s Prince- esque falsetto. Ebbing and flowing through cartoon-carnal lust, the song paints out a digitised picture of the aubergine and water spray emojis with giggle inducing effect. Even the instrumentals are playful in their own way; ruminating on the underwater, glitchy robot funk of ‘Miracle Rooftop’ Mount simply reflects “A lot of what I do is touring and so a lot of the music I hear tends to be diegetic. One thing I have become very aware of is rooftops – they’ve always been there but now we can access them.
You go to rooftop bars and they are exactly what you thought they would be: a bar on a roof and they are playing this music which is like rooftop music, that’s the only way I can describe it. Non-descript house-y music and it goes on and it goes on and it goes on. ‘Miracle Rooftop’ is a song that I want to get added to Rooftop playlists. At its heart its quite a Balearic track but with a sinister undertone – a bit like a rooftop bar.” There we go – right from the horse’s mouth! And then there’s the subject of nuptials; the album is opened by the slo-mo intro of ‘Wedding’, with organ sounds and distant dongs carving out a strange wedded dreamscape. Towards the end of the album there’s ‘Wedding Bells’, a warped sci-fi synth romp that drives forward with a crackle and hiss, as Mount simply states, “I hear wedding bells but they’re not for you/they’re for your best friend”. The Metronomy-man further explains “I’m not invited to many weddings. And it makes you wonder how many friends you have and how you have not perhaps remained close to people or even kept a distance purposefully”.
Something that ‘Metronomy Forever’ conveys, along side its playfulness is its penchant for melancholy, that sometimes is mixed with a heady rush of hedonism, just to freak out those serotonin levels. ‘Insecurity’s strutting fuzz is a perfect example, whilst it’s upbeat and swaggering, Mount confesses his own anxieties and how he covers them up because of what’s expected of his gender “I’ve got an insecurity/it gets real bad when you’re standing next to me/I take it because I’m being a man/but I swear it’s killing me”. ‘Lately’ flips the script by plunging the album into darker realms; all drum ‘n’ bass beats and ghostly withdrawn synths but Mount can be heard declaring “it’s a job for two” in statement of solidified love. ‘The Light’s aloof jazz-space-funk inencased in more apprehension, which has Mount recognising “I understand you’re not in love” whilst pleading “help me please/help me be the one/show me please how I can be the one.” Even pockets of instrumental tracks like “Lying Low” with it’s 80s/90s house vibes and ‘Forever is a Long Time’, a garbled lost transmission like Kraftwerk are controlling your dreams, convey a rich melancholic tug on the emotions.
‘Metronomy Forever’? Let’s hope so.
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams