The dark edge of Metric’s music does not hang like clouds over the band’s latest set of songs. It’s eerie and disconcerting, but grounded in a realism that the band calls its first attempt of “facing what you know is true.” So the Montreal foursome has come down from the skies of 2009’s Fantasies -- which wasn’t exactly a spritely dance through the heavens -- and landed on flat feet, in dark basements. Ten years together as Metric has by no means taken away the underground cool of its aura. Rather, the sound is growing sharper and tighter as it pulses into the night air.
“Youth Before Youth” is insanely catchy, an ode to the best of Depeche Mode, all buzzy bass and punchy percussion. Emily Haines gives rock stars something to aim for, her cunning hiss as powerful as the growl or garble we’ve come to accept as a strong vocal. Feedback hisses through the song like a tea kettle ready to explode, adding to the song’s unrelentless tension.
Nothing else on the album matches that energy, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking. “I’ll shut up and carry on/a scream becomes a yawn” echoes through the moodier ”Dreams So Real,” a quiet ode to repression where ringing guitars and subtle synths lull you into a stupor. Following it with “Lost Kitten” is brilliant, as the peppy, Cardigans-esque number brings us back to life with effervescent chimes and a chugging verse-chorus-verse that’s as close as Metric will ever get to cheerleading.
There’s something untouchable here that’s so, just, Metric. It’s not easy to pull off jagged guitar riffs that prompt reckless behavior and dance marathons all at once, all while maintaining an anthemic quality. As these four Canadians reach more people with a growing fan base, they’re not shying away from the same driving rhythms and melodies that color their earliest songs. They are just as edgy they always have been. And grounded in the truth, their songs are only getting better.