When I read that Metronomy’s band leader Joseph Mount had relocated from the hectic bustle of life in Paris to a more tranquil life atop a hill in the garden of England around the time of this album’s conception, something about this seemed to intrinsically make sense. Art is often said to imitate life, and Metronomy Forever crafts a spacious and carefree atmosphere. The upbeat indie-disco floor-fillers are still there, but they are staggered throughout the long and rewarding journey that is their sixth full length album.
Since 2011’s The English Riviera provided the group with their commercial breakthrough, Metronomy have developed a penchant for releasing widely varied and unpredictable LPs. These offerings seem to zigzag and fleet through genre on an almost track by track basis, with the Metronomy, and more specifically Joseph Mount DNA strung throughout, acting as the thread that ties these tracks together.
Metronomy Forever is quite possibly the starkest example of this to date. It’s seventeen track duration is wound together almost more like a mixtape than an album. Insecurity, a thumping track that seamlessly pairs whirring synths with a Smell’s Like Teen Spirit-esque riff, is closely followed by Salted Caramel Ice Cream, a sultry electronic earworm which harks back to LCD Soundsystem in their pomp. There are more examples of this throughout, but these juxtapositions never feel contrived or jarring.
In true Metronomy fashion, it is very much an album of colourful, kaleidoscopic highs and ambient, introspective lulls. For every anthemic electro-pop goliath like Whitsand Bay or Lately, there are darker moments found within the haunting ambience of Forever Is a Long Time, the subdued brilliance of Walking in the Dark and the low-key beats of Miracle Rooftop.
The darkest corner of Metronomy Forever comes at the tail end of the album. The abundance of life and colour found so frequently within Metronomy’s work is evaporated on Upset My Girlfriend, replaced by raw, stripped back guitars, and Mount’s introspective and confessional lyrics. It provides the album with a sobering dose of gravity, in a similar fashion to how Never Wanted did on Love Letters. Having backed themselves into a corner by stripping themselves of the comforts that their eclectic and colourful sound usually affords them, Metronomy triumph and create a track flooded with emotional resonance and depth.
The album, as evidenced by its title, is an ode to the past and the future of Metronomy. Different tracks and moments sound reminiscent of all corners of the bands back catalogue, with the occasional reference or sample to reinforce this. At other times the band sound as futuristic and pioneering as they ever have, with their signature wonky synths crafting impossibly catchy sounds. The album almost serves as an analysis of the still-beating heart of the group, examining and celebrating their continuous life in the wake of many of their contemporaries falling to the wayside.
Overall, Metronomy Forever is a pleasing, if a little bloated, array of sounds and textures. Long-standing fans of the outfit will find a lot to love within its ebbs and flows and there are several raucous hits that are sure to come staples of their off-kilter electo-indie sound. Album number six sees Metronomy throw a lot of ideas and concepts at the wall in typical fashion, and more often than not they stick, and stick with emphatic aplomb.