fri 01/07/2022

Album: Metronomy - Small World | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Metronomy - Small World

Album: Metronomy - Small World

English eccentrics go back to basics in lockdown, leading to surprising potency

Metronomy have gone all out to knock off their quirky corners here, and goodness, it’s worked.

It’s quite a move from a band whose eccentricity has always been part and parcel of their image – and they really haven’t done it by halves, in fact they’ve brought themselves a lot closer to their peers and near-peers in the process. But somehow, by zooming in on the archetypal, risking losing unique character, this album really demonstrates the level of talent that Metronomy main man Joe Mount really has. 

It’s been a roundabout route here – this is the seventh Metronomy album in 16 years, during which time they’ve constantly fluctuated between pop classicism and a desire to meander and add outré accoutrements. But the lockdown period of 2020 really crystallised the primacy of songwriting for them. Funnily enough, in that time, they were also making some deeply, deeply peculiar videos – broadcast on Instagram – so maybe that provided a pressure valve for the quirk, allowing the music to plough a straighter furrow. 

Or maybe, like so many people, the immediate sense of crisis in 2020 led to Mount realising what was important to him. Certainly there’s an emotional directness to these songs – not that they aren’t complex, but there’s a willingness to go straight for the feelings, positive or negative, that gives an instant impact. And the directness is there in the instrumentation, too: it’s way less processed and synth-y than usual, and consistent through the album.  

All that is held together by melodies that home in on a modern-ish British psychedelia: rather than references to Sixties, Seventies and Eighties pop, we’re in the Nineties and Noughties, the zone where The Beta Band and Super Furry Animals gave way to Django Django and Hot Chip. The very zone that Metronomy emerged out of, in fact. Maybe they’ve come to terms with their own milieu, and are entirely comfortable in their own musical skin? It certainly feels that way. Whatever: this is a remarkably consistent album that works wonderfully as a whole, even while each song stands as a neat little miniature. A great expression of musical maturity. 

@joemuggs

Below: listen to "Good to be Back"

There’s a willingness to go straight for the feelings, positive or negative

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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