Metric – Synthetica

So let’s pretend that you’re not that cool anymore. Yes, you, the one with the perfect hair that we hate and despair at and love. You’re our Leslie Feist, lead singer of Metric, for today. You used to be hip and underground and have a sweet apartment in Parkdale when Parkdale was seedy, but now you’re just somewhat successful and generally forgotten. What do you do? Do you:
a) Go back to your roots and reclaim your long-lost electro-rock sad sincerity,
b) Find a new sound, at the risk of alienating your fleeing fans,
c) Say “fuck it,” embrace the money, and write catchy songs for indie radio that you can sell to commercials, or
d) Pretend you’re still hip and cared by singing lines like “I’m as fucked up as they say,” and write songs that desperately want to be popularity while desperately sounding like you don’t care about popularity.

If you guessed d), then you may be Leslie Feist, lead singer of Metric! Every song on here tries to cling to hipness lost, but not by being original or clever, but detached and distant. And that doesn’t work with these fuzzy, mostly hookless, produced-as-fuck regular rock songs. Emily Haines still sounds like she’s too cool for you, but she also sounds like she could be the topic of a version of “Fuck Me Pumps” made for girls with half-shaved heads. And the band? They sound like as normal and safe a three-piece band as there’s ever been. They come up with a couple good grooves, but nothing exciting.
Once, Leslie and her Metrics were pretty exciting, but that was back when I was in high school. Now that fake girlish voice tic in “Lost Kitten” makes me want to retch. Having Lou Reed blandly intone one line over and over in “Wanderlust” doesn’t add anything. The extent that the title track and “Youth Without Youth” want to be big stadium rockers is actually a bit sad.
Sympathy is something I like feeling for Elliott Smith because he’s sad, not a singer like Leslie Feist because she wants to be ice queen of the hipsters but will (almost certainly) never escape being an answer to a Canadian Trivial Pursuit arts question. But so it is. You can’t sing “Nothing I’ve ever done right / Happens on the safe side” on one of the safest, “put me in your commercial!” albums I’ve heard in a long time, but that’s what’s here. Should kept the social scene together, amirite?

3 / 10

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