Metronomy - Love Letters
Joe Mount's electro-pop follow-up to The English Riviera can't help but suffer by comparison
Across three albums, Metronomy evolved from Joseph Mount’s one-man glitch electronica project into an iridescent indie pop band. Debut album Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) (2006) bristled with wonky beats while The English Riviera (2011) saw Metronomy expand not just in personnel but also in scope. A shimmering slice of retro pop, it marked a wonderful side step that felt quintessentially British. A celebration of Mount’s youth in Devon, it transformed the mundane into the exotic, drenching dreary seaside towns with hidden glamour. It also won Metronomy a Mercury Music Prize nomination.
Mount still holds the reins, writing, producing, singing and playing multiple instruments (backed up by Oscar Cash on keys and sax, Anna Prior on drums and vocals and Gbenga Adelekan on guitar) but for record number four he has ditched the computers. Stepping back from the digital world, they recorded the album on analogue equipment at London's Toe Rag Studios, as favoured by the White Stripes, the Cribs and the Kills. You have to admire Mount's production work, adding as it does an organic warmth recalling 70s rock and Motown funk. In fact Mount stated in a recent interview that he sees his future as a producer after a couple more Metronomy albums.
However Love Letters very much continues the theme and sound the previous album set out. The title track overflows with joyous energy; 'Never in a Month of Sundays' bubbles with a jaunty melancholia; the instrumental 'Boy Racers' is a Kraftwerk-meets-haunted ice-cream van jingle while 'Never Wanted' is a wistful closer. There's a hitherto unexplored sadness at play with hints of prog, French new wave and glam rock.
It’s not that Love Letters is a bad album – far from it, it features 10 exquisitely crafted, sophisticated pop songs – it just doesn’t feel as cohesive as The English Riviera. The last album so succinctly captured a mood and set such a high benchmark that the follow up can't help but suffer by comparison.