'Fantasies,' the fourth full-length from Metric opens with recent single 'Help I'm Alive,' which sets the tone for the rest of the album with its blend of rock, indie and electro. Frontwoman Emily Haines' breathy vocals are striking, and bring a psychedelic tinge to the song's slow-burning indie-electro.
'Sick Muse' closely follows the formula set out in 'Help I'm Alive,' mixing natty guitar-plucking with a snappy electro beat.
The choruses plough a similar electro-indie furrow, as Metric break out the euphoric guitars, and Emily's characteristically breathy vocals drape those headrush riffs in a summer's day shimmer. The chorus of 'Sick Muse' successfully blends the uplifting quality of anthemic indie, with the no-brainer, repetitive catchiness of electro. It's a likeably quirky combination.
Despite 'Fantasies' flair for combining the light rock and electro worlds, there are some songs that rock noticeably harder than others.
'Satellite Mind' is one of this album's more straightforward rock tracks. A clunky, spring-heeled drumbeat runs throughout the song, giving it an off-kilter bounce that not even a shedload of random, tacked-on synths can soften. The choruses go for an even more rock-centric sound, with long, grinding riffs ricocheting off of neat drum-rolls.
'Satellite Mind' is a twitching piece of electro-embellished indie, with a great underlying beat, but its harder, cleaner rhythms don't quite get stuck in your head as some of this album's dreamier electro fug does.
'Gold Guns And Girls,' is another guitar-driven track. Its background buzz and gasped secondary vocals hint at a sleazier, rock and roll side to Metric.
'Gold Guns And Girls' also has an excellent pre-chorus build up of chanted vocals, which hustle the listener into the chorus' dirty electro groove. Packed with vaguely unsettling backing vocals, bouncing drumbeats and crackling electro, 'Gold Guns And Girls' is toe-tappingly catchy on the surface, with a surprisingly dark underbelly.
The third and final of Metric's electro-eschewing offerings is the bass-driven 'Front Row.' Resistance really is futile: this mind-numbingly repetitive track will lull you into a pleasant daze. With Emily's chanting all but buried beneath that chugging bass line, 'Front Row' offers absolutely no variation, and therein lies the beauty of it. This is a song you can give 1% of your attention, and still enjoy.
At the other end of the scale is 'Gimme Sympathy,' which sees Metric stray into Euro-pop territory of sunny lyrics and blaring, trancey synths. The synths increase tenfold as the song progresses, and 'Gimme Sympathy' expires on a grin-inducing, cheesy-dance high. This is a piece of euphoric dance even the most miserable of souls couldn't fail to enjoy.
'Blindness' is a song of two halves that are completely disconnected from one another. Opening with sombre, urban-esque atmospherics, 'Blindness' strikes a beautifully disillusioned note. However, it then erupts into rollicking, oompa-pa beats, embellished with plenty of starry synths. This stylishly ramshackle second half is incredibly catchy, and the opening half is equally atmospheric, but it'll take the listener a while to get over that initial lurch between the two musical styles.
Throughout 'Fantasies' Emily's vocals are consistently strong, but two songs in particular - 'Collect Call' and 'Twilight Galaxy' - make full use of her unique vocal prowess.
'Twilight Galaxy' restricts itself to a puttering electro beat and the occasional organ flourish. It could have gone dreadfully wrong but, thankfully, Emily's voice is distinctive enough to hold the listener's attention. Her decision to speak, rather than sing, is a gamble that pays off, putting that extra, lulling twist on her vocals. Each word is carefully and hesitatingly pronounced, and is guaranteed to reel you in.
At almost five minutes long, this essentially simple song does go on a bit, but 'Twilight Galaxy' is a steady piece of barely-there electro oddness that works simply because Emily's vocals are so good.
'Collect Call' is, likewise, carried by Emily's unique voice. The stripped-down verses of a heartbeat-aping backing beat and delicate synths, leaves it solely down to the vocals to layer on the atmosphere, and they rise to the challenge.
During the first verse, Emily's vocals are haunting: gossamer-thin and lullaby simple. For the second verse, she gives her vocals an extra, urgent twist, which sees them rising to eerie high notes.
By comparison, the choruses fall flat, with the same piece of uninspiring electro repeated over and over, and Emily suddenly sounding as though she's just going through the motions. Thankfully, the verses are good enough to gloss over this song's less exciting moments.
Metric go all-out on album-closer 'Stadium Love,' cramming in shedloads of bordering-on-silly synths, machine gun drumming and whining, hook-paced vocal flourishes, all delivered with a scuzzy, sleazy rock and roll edge. Playing out like a swaggering, arena-sized rock song with added Euro-pop cheese, 'Stadium Love' brings this album to a wonderfully over-the-top conclusion.
'Fantasies' is rare in that its electro leanings are all very subtle. There's none of Innerpartysystem's showy electro-rock here. 'Fantasies' is often a low-key, slow-burning, experimental affair, with many tracks taking several listens to fully appreciate. Also surprising, is the variety, as Metric veer between several different genres, making them particularly difficult to categorise.
An interesting collection of semi-psychedelic, semi-indie-electro that just might seep slowly into your brain and stay there, if given a fair chance.