Metronomy are clouded under a fair bit of expectation for their fourth album Love Letters. Hailing from Devon they’re used to being under clouds one way or another, but this heavy precipitation of anticipation falls off the back of their previous release The English Riviera. The 2011 record went gold, was nominated for a Mercury Prize, and as lead man Joseph Mount asserts, even managed to increase public interest and tourism in the titular part of the country.
Originally an instrumental electronic project that has developed into almost un-pigeonhole-able electro-pop, Metronomy found international exposure with breakout single Heartbreaker from second album Nights Out, and fellow quirky delights My Heart Rate Rapid and A Thing for Me. The next album’s standout The Look put them firmly in sight, leaving them as regulars on the 2012 festival season. That was the last time Metronomy played live, until they resurfaced in Brighton early this year to unveil their new work, having penned Love Letters.
Opening track The Upsetter kicks it off with an acoustic, stripped back vibe that feels less quirky than we’ve come to expect. However, Mount has never stuck to a design or been happy to settle on a sound, with each new album bringing something a little different. One constant though is his charming falsetto, which surfaces instantly. The first single that gave us a peak at the album late last year, I’m Aquarius, touches on typical Metronomy themes of lust, love and loss, introducing an astrological soundscape as it details two star-crossed lovers who fall out of the sky, with drummer Anna Prior adding a dichotomy with backup vocals. It typifies the primordial drum machine beats and synth layering that are the foundations of the record. With Mount having stated that he’ll soon be focusing solely on producing, it’s clear that this has become an increasingly significant part of their work.
Month of Sundays embodies some of The White Stripes’ sound, either ironically or coincidentally having recorded in the retro Toe Rag Studios in East London, known for knocking out garage rock records, including The White Stripes’ Elephant. It is immediately followed by Boy Racer, a throwback to their instrumental roots, which also picks up on the album’s spacey opening sounds. The Most Immaculate Haircut is an early contender for the year’s best song title and subject matter, a cute ode of jealousy with Mount yearning for another dude’s hair in the opening stanzas. The album’s potential for success has already been confirmed with Michael Gondry ending a three year music video hiatus to direct the title track, having shot videos for only the biggest acts, from The Rolling Stones to Daft Punk.
With simplistic drum loops and less eccentricity than previous releases, Love Letters calls upon Mount’s capacity for fascinating lyrics and vocal hooks. This release sees those skills at their peak, even managing to create moments that he says could “accidentally turn into rousing stadium moments”. A dark, forlorn, lovelorn stack of letters, it shows that Metronomy are refusing to stand still, perhaps reassuring fans that it won’t be their last.