Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Isn’t a fantasy supposed to be unrestrained? A wondrous, strange imagining? It’s doubtful that Metric named their new album, Fantasies, out today on Last Gang, with an intended tongue in cheek, but indeed what we get is a collection of bland, mediocre songs that don’t offer anything new and don’t really take us anywhere.
Not to be confused with bad, Fantasies simply rides the (new) wave into boring. Metric have undoubtedly helped to build one of the most prolific and influential indie rock scenes in North America, but a handful of radio hits later, they’re essentially still a radio-rock band in disguise. They had a girl on vocals and, at one time, more synths than most other bands on mainstream alt-rock airwaves, and so they shined like a diamond in the jock-jam rough. But the lazy hooks and repetitive, formulaic arrangements of this status quo are getting old (especially when close contemporaries Stars pull a brilliant artistic one-up like their 2007 opus, In Our Bedroom After the War).
All the usual lyrical suspects are here: cold tales of lonely nights out (and the lonelier nights in), paranoia, and restlessness, the latter being the best suitor for the album’s thin, muted-down (expected) electro-pop guitars and synths. Not unlike the post-grunge studio pile-up created by Butch Vig and the rest of Garbage in the ’90s, the more that gets put on a Fantasies track, the flatter it sounds. The best songs here are the most sparse: album opener (and first single) “Help, I’m Alive” slinks through a trance-like bassline into a perfectly distorted sub-chorus, with Haines’s crisp, sweet falsetto (maybe ironically) giving the album some of its best edge, and “Twilight Galaxy” revels in dreamy organs and the cracking snare’s reverb, its hazy warmth providing a subtle texture and depth that Fantasies otherwise lacks.
Perhaps the title Fantasies refers solely to the dream-like soundscape throughout, and, if so, mission accomplished, but ultimately, this is a disappointing voyage across some everyday terrain. If you weren’t one of the select few to catch their secret, intimate show late last week, Metric will do an in-store performance and autograph signing (what?) at HMV (333 Yonge Street) on Thursday, April 9, at 5:00 p.m. and play an all-ages show at the Mod Club on Tuesday, April 14. You can win tickets by listening to 102.1 The Edge. Sorry about that.