Metronomy – The English Riviera Metronomy – The English Riviera

Metronomy- The English Riviera

Metronomy- The English Riviera

The English Riviera is an odd departure for Joseph Mount’s Metronomy- the bands’ past two albums, Nights Out and the annoyingly titled Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 you owe) were largely electronic affairs, dealing mainly in music for the dancefloor and singles that could be remixed into music for the dancefloor. One probably wouldn’t expect then a band with such a back catalogue to set their sights on drive-time FM, but The English Riviera shimmers with just that air- glossy pop songs neatly presented, hooks galore (sounds like a villain in a Peter Pan prequel….or something) and summery tunes.

I hadn’t listened to Metronomy much before this latest release, and from what I gather they have been through an ever changing line-up, save for frontman Joseph Mount. He hails from Devon in the UK, but you wouldn’t know it- everything from The English Riviera’s album artwork to the poppy synth and ridiculously funky bass points to 70’s West Coast USA. The tightness and confidence of some of the tracks on here has gained comparisons to Steely Dan, and indeed, The English Riviera never puts a foot wrong musically. The scene-setting seagulls and soothing sounds of the sea drift away precisely when they’re meant to at the beginning of “We Broke Free”, a straightforward rock number that certainly recalls dad-rock bands of old (I’m not even that well acquainted with Steely Dan, and I’m still pretty sure it sounds like Steely Dan). Same deal on the infuriatingly toe-tapping “Everything Goes My Way” , the harmonies and unidentifiable hooting noises come in exactly when they’re supposed to, and it makes for a great pop song.

It really is faultless production throughout. The dark “She Wants” even recalls Pink Floyd at their most sinister, whilst the doo-wop “Trouble” is an expertly deployed aside to the urgent hooks that populate the rest of the album. And production be damned- “The Bay” is just brilliant. The English Riviera may be a far cry from Metronomy’s glow stick indie forays of the past, but they clearly haven’t lost the knack of writing a catchy pop song.
This is all good stuff. Too good, in fact. They don’t put a foot wrong; there are no psychedelic freak outs, no real intense highs or depressing lows. Almost every song on The English Riviera is wonderfully catchy, but there’s nothing for a listener to engage with or to sink one’s teeth into. This running theme throughout the album isn’t exactly helped by some truly awful lyrics. “We Broke Free” for instance begins with the safely charming “So get yourself fixed up, I’ll take you out round town/ I swear you’ll never witness anything quite as fine”. That’s fine and dandy, until Mount starts going on about gold – “Thank God the gold is mine”. He repeats this until the song ends, like a crazed bearded treasure hunter. Elsewhere, the main lyrical hook on “The Bay” is, “This isn’t Paris, and this isn’t London, it’s not Berlin, and it’s not Hong Kong”. Now, some hurried research reveals that this is a reference to Mount’s home of Devon, and the band’s attempt to attribute the washed out sounds normally associated with Florida, Miami etc……to Devon. But really, had I not told you that, would you not have assumed as I did that Mount just sounds like a very confused/angry man?

The English Riviera is still a very well put together album, and its perfectly timed release as well as insanely catchy songs ensures it of repeated listens this summer- A good thing. It’s also convinced me to go check out Steely Dan. I’ll let you know whether or not that’s a good thing some other time.

Metronomy - The English Riviera, reviewed by Lemon on 2011-05-04T14:16:41-07:00 rating 3.7 out of 5

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