Love Letters by Metronomy:
Love Letters, Metronomy’s newest album, is quite possibly one of the most interesting and weirdest efforts I have reviewed thus far. The indie-electronic production is fascinating in that it creates music that sounds both futuristic and old-timey.
The band is also distinctly aware of the fact that the audience can and probably will listen with headphones, taking advantage of the ability to spread sounds. For example, when listening to the eerie, organ-based “Monstrous,” the beat is more strongly focused on the right ear, while the vocals come in on the left, merging in quite a captivating fashion. The experience through speakers for this appropriately named track is more unified and does not sound strange when it quite possibly could.
For how interesting the experience is on headphones, there is a struggle for the often-unaltered vocals; at times they seem enchanting, but during other moments it is difficult to ignore that they need some tweaking. The instruments and beat usually come across as well produced, but the vocals can be a hit-or-miss.
The strangeness of the vocal presentation is evident right from the get-go in “The Upsetter,” using a combination of questionably recorded singing over instruments that bear similarities to those used by Electric Guest (as many of these electric-focused beats do).
Substance is also quite an issue. With only 10 songs, one of which is an instrumental, and soft vocals, it is difficult to feel like the effort has enough stuff in it. Not to mention that a few of the songs like “The Most Immaculate Haircut” are not very good songs, apart from the interesting use of water splash to set up one of the better songs of the CD, “Reservoir.” Four or five good songs attempt to carry an interesting, yet frequently misdirected and unsubstantial album - not an easy task by any means.
Despite its missteps, Love Letters is not void of good music. The instrument production and spreading of layers between the left and right ear is usually quite noteworthy and merit at least one listen through. Furthermore, some songs are very gratifying beyond the aforementioned production complexity. “Love Letters” picks up to a fast-paced momentum with charisma that I wish had been present in various other tracks. As stated earlier, “Reservoir” is also very good, and while it may not have a Chipotle near it, its catchy beat and lyrics are a standout nonetheless.
The next and last song on the album, “Never Wanted,” proves it’s own memorable quote to be true: Some of the tracks prior to the last two songs don’t push the album forward enough, “but it gets better” at the end. With softer vocals of vacation imagery that leads to a chorus that utilizes base guitar strums, it is one of the stronger songs put forth by the group.
Metronomy made Love Letters worth listening to at a basic level, but arguably iffy vocal work, lack of substance and a few dull tracks makes for an album that will probably not keep listeners’ attention for more than the first few listens. After that, only the best songs of the album will sometimes be revisited.
Suggested Songs: “Monstrous,” “Love Letters,” “Reservoir,” “Never Wanted”