Anticipated is a word that gets bandied about far too much in the music press: a word that is the default choice for any band returning to action after a year or more out of the limelight. But while some may not totally be deserving of the word, with Metronomy it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t fit.
Three years after their critically praised third album ‘The English Riviera’, they are on the verge of once again staking a claim for becoming everybody’s new favourite band with a fresh collection of lo-fi but heartfelt pop – album four, ‘Love Letters’, is out in March.
The band’s first show since an appearance at a German festival in September 2012 is an intimate affair in front of an audience consisting of friends, family and fans. Those in attendance witness a series of sometimes kitsch, ‘80s-inspired pop featuring a sprinkling of its makers’ early spirit.
The band’s first incarnation saw members sport black t-shirts with flashing white lights attached, pulling off synchronised dance moves soundtracked by three-minute bursts of drum-machine outsider pop. But with each passing album the Joseph Mount-fronted outfit has taken several steps forward, and is now a finely tuned pop machine.
Tonight’s show is another sign that Metronomy is not a band willing to remain still. It’s an educational 80-minute lesson in where the band is at right now.
Mount humbly apologises for “the band being out of practice” and also the amount of new material, stressing that this return to playing live after 16 months is an opportunity to “try out new things”. But while the set is heavily tailored towards road-testing the material from ‘Love Letters’, the show isn’t all about airing previously unheard songs.
Songs such as ‘Radio Ladio’ and the dark, twisted basslines of ‘Holiday’ and ‘She Wants’ gently snuggle up against material that makes up the band’s forthcoming LP, without ever sounding out of place. Receiving live debuts are a host of tracks, including ‘Boy Racers’, ‘Call Me’, ‘The Most Immaculate Haircut’ and recent single ‘I’m Aquarius’.
Metronomy appreciate what effect their past has had on their present, so the older numbers are welcomed. The contrast between ‘The English Riviera’ material and that of ‘Love Letters’ is indicative, too, of the progression this band could take in its future.
A pop band designed to please: this is what Metronomy have become, through a sequence of neatly refined long-play releases. And long may that status continue.
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Words: Nathan Westley
Photos: Andy Sturmey (website)