They may be synonymous with nervy dance-punk and neon-lit electro-pop, but Metric have always been prog architects at heart—think of the multi-sectional sprawl of early standards like “Hustle Rose” or “Empty,” or the two-part cosmic synth suite “The Face” that closed out 2015’s Pagans in Vegas. And with the first track of their eighth album, Formentera, they erect their most labyrinthine musical obstacle course to date. Clocking in at over 10 minutes, “Doomscroller” instantly thrusts you into a nightmarish beatscape, as lead singer Emily Haines dispenses vivid vignettes of the cabin-fever claustrophobia that defined pandemic life for so many. But after building to a mid-song climax, “Doomscroller” simmers down into a wounded but comforting piano-ballad finale that shifts the vibe from Kid A to Queen, providing a road map of the therapeutic emotional arc that plays out over the course of the record. “We weren’t interested in making a pandemic record,” guitarist James Shaw tells Apple Music. “We were interested in making an end-of-pandemic record. We wanted to soundtrack people’s journey out of this hellhole.” For Metric, the destination they had in mind was Formentera, the Balearic island that the group spotted in a travel magazine they discovered in Shaw’s rural Ontario studio, and which became their lodestar as they sheltered and recorded in place with producers Liam O’Neil and Gus van Go. As Shaw tells it, that isolating experience ultimately proved to be liberating for a band entering its third decade of existence. “What we realized in the course of making this record was that we actually can do whatever we want,” Shaw says as he begins his track-by-track commentary for the album. “We’ve built a career that is somewhat insulated from a lot of external forces, and that was very freeing—like, ‘Yes, we can start our record with a 10-and-a-half-minute song!’” “Doomscroller” “We didn’t set out to make a 10-and-a-half-minute song. The first half of the song was something that Liam and I had been working on; Emily listened to it and sang her whole part in one take. But there was something about the song that just felt unfinished. It felt kind of stark—doomscrolling is not the most uplifting feeling! We wanted to add some sort of redemption, and Emily came in with this other piece of music and thought, ‘What if we segued into this?’ Once we got to the place where the two things melded, I really wanted the ending to feel like a big hug after the whole thing you just went through.” “All Comes Crashing” “We were getting near the end of the record, and we had written a ton of music. We were trying to assemble this group of songs, and we knew we were missing one. So, right at the end, Emily sat me and Gus down and played us three songs that she had just recorded on the piano. This song was the last one that she played for us. Gus and I both looked at each other and we’re like, ‘You’re kidding, right?’ Of all the music that we’d written over two years, this was the most straightforward, completely relatable song! Emily’s talking about a love that’s not bound by the conventions of heterosexual romantic relationships, or even romantic relationships at all. When everything really hits the fan, we have an opportunity to find out who that important person is for you—maybe it’s your neighbor, maybe it’s your pal, maybe it’s your dog.” “What Feels Like Eternity” “This started as an electronic piece but definitely developed into more of a band moment—especially in the bridge, where I got to exercise my love for Johnny Marr’s playing. When we started sequencing the record, we realized the narrative arc is that it starts in a lot of turmoil and anxiety, and this song is sort of the height of that stress we were all feeling about a year into this [pandemic] mess and wondering, ‘Is this thing ever gonna end?’ It just felt like every step forward was actually two or three steps backwards.” “Formentera” “What happened to us over the course of the last two years is encapsulated more in this song than anything else. We realized that everything you thought you were in control of, you weren’t. But in that process of realizing how little control you actually have in the world, there’s a huge amount of freedom. So, when you get to this point on the record, an orchestra carries you into the escapism of ‘Formentera,’ which is where we went in our imaginations. Emily says in the song, ‘Why not just let go?’ Emily tends to be the canary in the coal mine in the group—she was like, ‘Hey, guys, I think I’m free. And it’s pretty nice in here. Let’s go to Formentera.’” “Enemies of the Ocean” “In the narrative arc, this is the moment where you realize, once you find peace, it’s OK to reflect. You’re not in a struggle anymore, so you can come to terms with what happened and where you are and where you’ve been and what the hell’s going on. When I heard this the other day again, I thought, ‘Man, we must have listened to a lot of Mercury Rev!’” “I Will Never Settle” “Liam and I were working, and I pulled up an old, little fragment of music from maybe 2014. We resurrected it and completely changed the vibe, and then we sent it to Emily, and she said, ‘OK, you guys are insane—mind blown. I guess I’m writing a new song to this.’ It ended up being like a midpoint mission statement: Once you’ve left all the anxiety and demons behind, then you can put your fist up and say, ‘I’m not doing that again—I’m not going to settle for that kind of life. I know what I can do in this world, and I know what I’m capable of.’” “False Dichotomy” “Emily became obsessed for a minute with the idea of a false dichotomy and how there’s so many things in the world where you’re told that you can only do one or the other, and that they’re mutually exclusive—like success and integrity. This is like an extension of ‘I Will Never Settle.’ It’s saying, ‘I don’t have to be one or the other. I don’t have to be starving to be a poet. I don’t have to only express love or hate. It’s just not that simple.’ When you embrace the complexity of things, it allows you to lead a much richer and deeper existence.” “Oh Please” “This was a very early track that we did in summer 2020. And it was just Emily expressing an excitement over not being held down by anything. It’s basically her saying, ‘Whatever you think I am, I am something else. You can’t peg a title on me. You don’t know what I am—I know what I am.’” “Paths in the Sky” “Because this album starts with so much stress, we felt it was important to end on a really peaceful note—but also have it feel a little bit open-ended. ‘Paths in the Sky’ is really just an ode to true friendship. We all have those people in our lives that you can call and say, ‘Meet me at the back of the bar’ and tell them how shitty things are, and they’ll hear you, and they’ll give you advice—and you probably won’t take it! Emily’s always writing songs about friendship. There’s people who write songs about romance a lot—romance gets a ton of airtime, but friendship doesn’t get that much, and it kind of deserves it.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada