As the fourth full length studio album from Metronomy, whose particular brand of electro-soul has made them household names both on the radio and on the festival circuit, Love Letters has hope of fans and aficionados alike pegged firmly high. And although this album is a bit of a departure from what we have known from the band, it is a deliciously dark and, at times, decadent offering from the quartet.
The album deals with the highs and lows of a love affair, and interestingly this felt very much like a metaphor for the experience of the first time listener. As a whole, it is a bit of a musical roller coaster with some incredible and jubilant moments and some truly morose morsels that leave a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth. However one thing that is certainly evident in this record is the mashing and merging of multiple cultures, straddling somewhere between Britishness and Frenchness. It would have been just as aptly named The British Channel for this reason. Perhaps that would have accounted for the rather watery and aquatic feeling it has at times, and perhaps the occasional sinking feeling.
That sinking feeling was epitomised through opening track ‘The Upsetter’ (no, really), which acts much like its name. It has a rather melancholy and lonely essence at its core, with stripped back and bare instruments interweaving with complex and profound vocals, giving it a feeling that is as mixed and conflicted as the human heart to which this track refers refers. But for every low there is a high, for every musical dark cloud, there is a silver lining, and there are many in abundance in this album. ‘Boy Racers’ is a delight, opening with sonar-esque pulses giving way to some 70s funk on a synth. What makes this track so affable is the fact that it’s time travel through your ears. If you close your eyes, you might fully expect to find yourself immersed in an Austin Powers movie, or a Back To The Future II scenario, all glass and chrome and hovercars alongside some 70s disco flares. It is this strange mix of magnificently modern music with nostalgia for a bygone musical era that makes this track a sensation.
Other noteworthy moments come in the form of ‘Reservoir’, and the single ‘Love letters’. Both tracks give this record some much needed light and air amongst some rather broody and petulant melodies, although the topic of the songs still remain angsty. The latter has to be the winner on this album, with a nice opening of synthy sounding trumpets collapsing into some pulsating and pounding drum beats. “At last, a track that kicks in” I thought. Not only was it a rose amongst the thorns in the sense that it had a strong and upbeat feel, it also boasts willowy and dusty vocals that make the heart sing.
In essence, I don’t feel that this record is going to blast Metronomy into the mainstream successes of stardom, but it is a solid, at times sexy and suave offering from the band that is well worth a listen.