Cast your mind back to drives with your folks when you were a child and their choice of music coming out of the radio. It probably sends a shudder up your spine?! Unless you were one of the lucky ones, generally speaking a parent’s choice of tunes is pretty dire. This isn’t something that’s escaped chief Metronomy man Joe Mount. Taking inspiration for his outfit’s seventh record, Mount took that notion and ran with it. Speaking about a key track and how it manifested the rest of ‘Small World’, our lead protagonist embellishes “‘It’s good to be back’ gets its name because, part of me was thinking, ‘what is the lamest platitude people are going to be saying coming out of the past two years?’, but at the same time, I was thinking how it will be true and how it might feel doing things again. I’ve been remembering what it was like as a kid when I’d be sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car and they’d be playing their music and I’d think ‘this is awful’, but there’d be one or two songs I would like. I thought it would be fun to make that kind of album, and this is the song the kids might like. This is the ‘cool’ song,” Mount declares.
A dangerous tactic you might think, an album full of potentially parent-endorsed ‘cool’ songs. This is Metronomy stripped back to their bare bones; sonically the LP is lodged somewhere between middle-of-the-road pop, soft rock and lounge music, with a small hint of the kitsch electronica that’s populated previous outings. ‘Small World’ finds Mount in a reflective mood, one that’s nostalgic, contemplative but also tinged with a smattering of melancholy as he looks back on his life while digesting the here and now.
‘Small World’ is a record you’d probably call nice or pleasant, which again fits the bill of ma and pa music. An acoustic strum here, a brushed drum there, a twinkle of piano and Mount’s hushed vocals are mainstays across the LP’s tracks. Something you can’t fault the record on, is its honest and heartfelt lyrics, which flit from despondent to supportive and on the odd occasion, content and happy. ‘Life and death’ the album’s opener, manages to smoosh those factors together, setting the tone for the record ahead “it was fun/what I did/got a job/had some kids/see you in the abyss” croons a solemn Mount. Via some summery soft rock ‘Things will be fine’ acts like a sympathetic arm around someone’s shoulder as the group’s main man trills “the sooner you tell someone/the better you will feel/so please put your trust in me.” ‘Right on time’ trots through a full gamut of emotions, commencing sombrely before leaping into something more joyous, which is when Mount urges the listener to focus on the brighter side of life “you caught me right on time/so for now/let’s enjoy the sunshine.” Despite a title that suggests something more positive and heart-warming, it’s hard to ignore the sadness at ‘Love factory’s core. It’s as if Mount is depicting a relationship on shaky ground but neither party wants to face the harsh reality that things aren’t working “let’s go see a movie/let’s buy a brand new car/let’s go climb the highest mountain range and forget just who we are” is littered with a multitude of distractions, exposing the reality that populates the couple’s day to day. ‘Small World’ is brought to a close by ‘I have seen enough’; a song that’s anchored by a tearstained elegance as the album’s finale fades out like a sad slow waltz.
‘Small World’ lacks some of the playfulness and pizazz normally associated with Metronomy, as that’s replaced by, dare I say it, a more mature aesthetic that doesn’t always hit the spot. Although it sure beats my parents subjecting me to Simply Red in the car all those years ago.
Pre-Order Small World by Metronomy HERE
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