10 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Canada’s Metric scored big in 2005 with Live It Out, a solid collection of tight and punchy, new-wave inspired rock. At the core of the band is singer Emily Haines, who also performs with the venerable Broken Social Scene, while allowing her torch song affinities to shine on solo recordings. With Metric, Haines has a brassy, sexy persona and can deliver a commanding sneer or Lolita precociousness with equal aplomb. Fans who have been waiting for Fantasies will not be disappointed; buzzing, humming guitars and incessant dance beats on tracks like  “Gold Guns Girls,” “Gimme Sympathy,” and “Sick Muse” are tempered with tracks like the twinkling “Twilight Galaxy,” the sinuous “Help I’m Alive,” and the dreamy “Collect Call.”  Whether Haines is snarling, “Cupid stuck me with a sickness” or purring, “Come on baby/I’ll pick you up and take you/ anywhere you want,” she delivers a solid punch, and together with the pop gloss on her keyboard work and the sharp edges of James Shaw’s guitars (nice twang on “Sick Muse,” dude!), Fantasies is — like Live It Out — smart and stylish pop of the highest order.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Canada’s Metric scored big in 2005 with Live It Out, a solid collection of tight and punchy, new-wave inspired rock. At the core of the band is singer Emily Haines, who also performs with the venerable Broken Social Scene, while allowing her torch song affinities to shine on solo recordings. With Metric, Haines has a brassy, sexy persona and can deliver a commanding sneer or Lolita precociousness with equal aplomb. Fans who have been waiting for Fantasies will not be disappointed; buzzing, humming guitars and incessant dance beats on tracks like  “Gold Guns Girls,” “Gimme Sympathy,” and “Sick Muse” are tempered with tracks like the twinkling “Twilight Galaxy,” the sinuous “Help I’m Alive,” and the dreamy “Collect Call.”  Whether Haines is snarling, “Cupid stuck me with a sickness” or purring, “Come on baby/I’ll pick you up and take you/ anywhere you want,” she delivers a solid punch, and together with the pop gloss on her keyboard work and the sharp edges of James Shaw’s guitars (nice twang on “Sick Muse,” dude!), Fantasies is — like Live It Out — smart and stylish pop of the highest order.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.
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Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1.2K Ratings

1.2K Ratings

semiglia ,

Masterpiece

Throughout their long career, Metric has been able to continually re-invent their sound on every album while still maintaining a level of excellence. In 'fantasies', they have reached a level of musical genius that they have never shown before. Each and every track on this record is a work of art, with breath-taking vocals, insane hooks, and a lyrical genius that only Metric could match. This is easily an early contender for the Best Album of 2009.

Kutoyis ,

I Blame O'Mahony

Don't get me wrong: I actually really liked this album. That is, I thought the songs were good, but I kept getting the feeling that the real Metric album never released, and I was just listening to a bunch of bad remixes. And after looking at the album credits, I think I know why.

Fantasies was mixed by John O'Mahony, known for his work mixing Coldplay (a prominent selling point for the album). Well, it looks like someone got a little happy with GarageBand, because I couldn't hear a single real instrument for most of the album: most of it's digitized choirs, organs, and synths. When I do hear a real guitar, it's playing riffs that sound like an Interpol B-side. The sound of this record just does not do justice to Emily Haines' considerable musical chops. And what's with O'Mahony's obsession with echoes? Nothing against Coldplay, but not every band benefits from the space-orchestra treatment.

In the past, Emily's songwriting was the main thing that set Metric apart from the rest of the pop-rock scene. In Fantasies, she hasn't lost her skill. But none of these songs are her best work. Her hooks are as likely vague and fanciful as they are her usual snippets of genius. Just listen to the chorus of "Satellite Mind".

Fantasies is not a bad album. A crazy-good Metric record is somewhere in all these tracks; it's just hidden under many layers of mixing. Mixing that's so bad and so hamhanded, Metric's presence is almost completely smothered. I can't wait to see Metric play these songs live -- without O'Mahony there to screw them up.

Matt Sanderlin ,

METRIC's Fantasies

There’s a lot to be said for female-fronted bands these days. Most of them attempt to emulate Hayley Williams and her success with Paramore, utilizing the basic pop/rock sound and adding a subtle twist. Canadian new-wave rock band Metric has never found themselves in this state of mind; they’ve always been bold and experimental in a very controlled and clever way. It’s technically been close to four years since Metric has put out anything new (2007’s Grow Up and Blow Away was a re-issue), but the time is close at hand. Fantasies, Metric’s fourth studio album, is due out on April 7, 2009. Thanks to an early leak, the entire album was put up for streaming on their Myspace, and I highly recommend that you take a listen.

Fantasies begins with the gripping first single, “Help I’m Alive,” which features spine-chilling melody lines coated with striking lyrics like “Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer? / Help! I’m alive! / My heart keeps beating like a hammer.” It’s brilliant, engaging, mysterious, and catchy; all at once. The production is especially appreciable; everything from the vocals to the guitars to the percussion. If you need some kind of sample, go ahead and get this song. It’s the key to unlocking the genius in the rest of the album.

Other album highlights include the spacey groove, “Satellite Mind,” the intriguing “Twilight Galaxy,” and the synth-driven “Gold Guns Girls.” “Satellite Mind” is my favorite of the trio, employing heavy tones and decisively choppy melody segments. “Twilight Galaxy” revolves around subtle vocal dynamics, while “Gold Guns Girls” explores urgent declaration and synthy callousness. Second track “Sick Muse” also is a stand-out, featuring earnest lyricism on a dark sound palette. Lines like “All the blonds are fantasies” and “Watch out, Cupid stuck me with a sickness / Pull your little arrows out and let me live my life” are just a few of the piercing phrases lead vocalist Emily Haines passionately expresses here. Plus, the melodies are all grade A here, and that doesn’t hurt in the least.

Mid-album track “Gimme Sympathy” feels like a confession in musical transit, setting diary-like monologue to persistent percussion. “After all of this is gone / Who would you rather be / The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” asks Haines bravely. It’s definitely a little poppy, but not generically or negatively. It’s just cautiously upbeat, if you will.

The remaining tracks are also intelligently composed, melodically satisfying, and engagingly fresh. Everything from the entracing “Collect Call” to the solemn “Blindness” constructs a fantasic completeness that involves and re-involves the album as a whole. The production is also note-worthy; synths are well-supported, the percussion is full of rich textures, and the vocals are sharp and smooth.

Fantasies is ultimately a victory for Metric. The songs themselves, the track-to-track consistancy, and the endless innovation all play a lead role in making the album a success. It’s noticeably darker than past Metric records, but this is easily a sign of maturity in this instance. Hands down, one of the best of 2009 so far.

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