‘Love Letters’ is forward motion for Metronomy

Known for their lo-fi electronic jams and avant-garde fashion sensibilities, Metronomy, an English band hailing from Devon, recently released their fourth studio album, “Love Letters.” Coming off of the intense critical and commercial success of their third album, 2011’s “The English Riviera,” “Love Letters” is highly anticipated production. Luckily for the band, this latest album — with its highly stylized aesthetic and the unique color scheme featured in promotional materials — is a challenging experiment in electronic music that shatters any expectations.

Metronomy’s sonic fingerprint seems perfectly suited for our modern times. With electronic beats peppered with synth melodies and a healthy dose of vintage flare, Metronomy seems to be firing on all cylinders for contemporary audiences. In this most recent effort, the theme is unflinchingly romantic and serious; the tracks deal with the idea of love and relationships. Although this topic often has the potential to be exceedingly trite, Metronomy’s album manages to draw listeners in with darker melodies and complicated progressions. This juxtaposition of sound and subject matter sets “Love Letters” apart from the other hackneyed pop expressions of love. Indeed, it seems Metronomy has decided to look to the past for inspiration in crafting “Love Letters.” Many songs — in particular, the opening number “The Upsetter” and “The Most Immaculate Haircut” — channel the melancholic melodies of older bands like The Cure and artists like David Bowie.

However, the English group is certainly not trapped in the past on “Love Letters.” Since their inception in the late ’90s, Metronomy has concerned themselves with making music that is primarily synth-based and electronic. While it seems counterintuitive to call electronic music vintage, more recent bands to which Metronomy draws strong comparison, like LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire, seem to illustrate this paradox well. Many tracks on the album walk the line between old and new, and force listeners to think differently about what defines electronic funk. Tracks like “Boy Racers,” marked by sharp percussion and funky bass, simultaneously recall the instrumentation of ABBA and the production style of James Murphy, the genius behind Arcade Fire’s latest album “Reflektor” (2013).

This vintage feel lends itself shockingly well to the band’s namesake (the metronome), although, there are more than a few songs that also sound like the background music to classic arcade games. The third song on the album, “Monstrous,” would be best suited accompanying the side-scrolling beat ‘em up video game “Golden Axe” (1989). However, this observation is far from an insult. Staying true to their roots and re-exploring those origins is something that Metronomy does with success throughout “Love Letters.”

Among many other notable songs, “Love Letters,” the title track off of the album, is an addictive jam full of pep and party vibes. Here, lead singer and songwriter Joseph Mount unapologetically sings over the band’s textured instrumentation. Interestingly, one of the more endearing aspects of the band is that its music is far from flawless. Preserving its lo-fi reputation on “Love Letters,” the four-part band keeps small mistakes and idiosyncrasies on their tracks. This tendency is not merely a ploy to seem more accessible; the band genuinely seems to relish the process of recording an album. This kind of sincerity, particularly in the world of indie-electro-synth music, is hard to find, and it has made Metronomy a band to watch in the genre.

Above everything, Metronomy is a group composed of talented musicians striving to create groundbreaking sounds. This desire for uniqueness is not contrived or forced. In fact, Metronomy is full of heart and style. The band appeals to listeners who aren’t afraid to test the limits of genres and dive into creative and inspired sound explorations.

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