Charming & personal – a new sound for Metronomy

download (13)THINK back to 2011, and Metronomy’s last album, The English Riviera. That album started with a chorus of strings and seagulls, followed by the album’s trademark pumping bass lines and upbeat synths. Now it’s 2014, and Metronomy are back, with an album simply titled: Love Letters. Opening with ‘The Upsetter’, a heartfelt song with an electronic drum beat and gentle acoustic guitar, this is something completely different. If you’re expecting The English Riviera Part 2, you’re going to be disappointed, for what Joe Mount and his rag tag band of electronic musicians have done is created a mild, charming stripped back record.

First, let us dissect how this album relates to previous Metronomy albums. For one, it’s a lot more reserved. The English Riviera had a lot of bombasticness, such as dance floor filler ‘The Bay’ and album closer ‘Love Underlined’. Even Nights Out had its moments. Here however, it feels like Mount has taken a step back, and assessed his music with a minimal mind. You won’t find many sing-a-long chorus’ here, bar, perhaps, the title track, which relates to Sixties pop, such as The Zombies, and Soul music. Elsewhere, there are plenty of tracks that relate back to the band’s first album, Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) such as instrumental track ‘Boy Racers’.

It’s quite clear from the off that this album is much more personal than its predecessor. There are far less ‘band based’ tracks, and Mount himself recently told the NME that Oscar Cash, Anna Prior and Olugbenga Adelekan played on barely any of the album. Mount’s personal relationship with the album comes across lyrically; especially with in the tracks ‘I’m Aquarius’, ‘Call Me’ and ‘Reservoir’. In this sense, it’s almost possible to view Love Letters as a sequel of sorts to Nights Out; after the weekend of chasing after the girls comes the endless declarations of love. These declarations are set to a backdrop of light, clean, broken guitar chords, old school synths and electronic drum kits. It’s patient music, it’s not in a rush to find the next chord change. It’s not for your average Dubstep or Pop music listener, and certainly not for those who don’t like their rock to deviate away from your standard four-piece group guitar group.

As the listener nears the end of the album, they can begin to feel a little weary. The bulk of the album consists of different sounds mixed together, and these produce some fantastic results. However, once the almost humorous song ‘The Most Immaculate Haircut’ has finished, we are left with the final two tracks. ‘Reservoir’ and ‘Never Wanted’ are rather anticlimactic, certainly not holding the listeners attention as much as the likes of ‘Love Underlined’. On the whole though, Love Letters is a charming, personal album, and a new sound for the band. I guess this is Joseph Mount’s own Love Letter.