Title: Love Letters
Record Label: Because Music
The evolution of Metronomy has been something to behold over the band’s four album lifespan. From the creative mind of Joe Mount, we’ve gorged on the bedroom produced dance-pop of Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe) and the sublime Nights Out. The real gear change came in the guise of third LP, The English Riviera, a sumptuous romantic paean towards Mount’s childhood dwelling of Torbay. To follow up the outfits much lauded last output comes Mount’s next wading into uncharted waters, the slightly more laidback, 70’s psyche influenced record, Love Letters.
In-between albums three and four, Mount has become a father and it would seem parenthood has calmed down the collective’s lynchpin as Love Letters is a more considered, sedate affair. Anyone expecting the same quirky, off-kilter indie dance floor slayers in the template of ‘Thing For You’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ had better be prepared for shock. Metronomy’s fourth affair, lurks in a place that is sparse and minimal – yes there are still flickers of the staccato rhythms of yore but ultimately this collection of songs is akin to the moment after the party has wound down, not the comedown but the time where you’re slouched on the sofa, final drink hand with that fuzzy feeling in your bones that expresses a good night. The record’s spacious leanings deliver varied results, opening missive ‘The Upsetter’ is a stutter in the sense of a curtain raiser, Mount’s vocal is mawkish at best and the constant repetition of ‘yeah’ becomes irritating after multiple listens. Acoustic strums and drum machine beats give the song a demo feel, like the track is missing the flesh and sinew to bring the whole thing to life. Recent single and next track, ‘I’m Aquarius’ fairs much better with a subtle synth line and a burgeoning hip-hop at the song’s heart gives the album a much needed kick-start. An added vocal layer of ‘shoo-doo-doo-ahh’ portrays a cool, playful edge to the head bobbing beats. Again, Love Letters stumbles on the acoustic meander of ‘The Most Immaculate Haircut’, an ode to Connan Mockasin’s pristine peroxide bowlcut. The brittle instrumentation lacks the oomph you’d want from Metronomy, attributing a track that’s more filler than killer.
The 70’s vibes mentioned previously crops up on the title track, a ditty that could have soundtracked the best 70’s drama never made. Bouncing with pure glee, ‘Love Letters’ this is where the album struts with panache and vigour, images of afro’s, flares and kaleidoscopic montages flash past as this retro number spins out. ‘Month of Sundays’ drops the pace but the chorus manages to crowbar in a Motown-esque refrain wrapped around the song’s title being repeated by an assembled wall of female voices.
Metronomy fans from back in the day will latch onto ‘Boy Racers’ and ‘Reservoir’ like life rafts amassing around the titanic. The brace of bouncing nuggets comes fully loaded with burbling beats and the kind of wonky pop Mount has been reeling out since he was cooped up, perched on his bed creating lo-fi foot shufflers.
Predictably for an album bearing the moniker of Love Letters, themes of affection and affairs of the heart are ubiquitous – ‘Monstrous’ chimes with Mount proclaiming ‘hold on tight to everything you care about/hopelessly it’s all I dream about/hold on tight because this might be the last time we dance here” delivered more out of desperation than loving warmth. Amongst the devoted declarations, Mount’s vocals appear strained, as if making a final plea instead of an unconditional message of sentiment.
Love Letters has been christened such a name, as Mount’s muse for the record was the longing and periods of being away from his partner and baby, with this being documented in the final track ‘Never Wanted’ – even down to the roll call of toiletries in the figurehead’s washbag. Like any love affair, Metronomy’s latest statement is riddled with the giddy highs and frustrating middle grounds romance can serve up. If you’re in for the long haul with Metronomy, your musical love affair won’t falter – however if you’re after a quick fling, Love Letters might not be the roll around in the sheets you’d want.
Words and Thought of Adam Williams