Metric: Formentera (Thirty Tigers) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, February 4th, 2023  

Metric

Formentera

Thirty Tigers

Jul 18, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


After over two decades in the game, Canadian band Metric show absolutely no sign of their artistic fire diminishing. On their eighth album, Formentera, they sound as vital as ever, with the creative nucleus of Emily Haines and James Shaw once more pushing the possibilities of what Metric are.

Formed back in 1998, Metric set about injecting some excitement and danger back into what they perceived as a derivative, moribund alt-rock scene. An early development deal and a seemingly forever-delayed debut album gave them a taste of, and a disdain for, the corporate machinations of big music. They saw the game was rigged and so developed their own strategy to successfully navigate the shark-infested waters and have since achieved iconic status in their Canadian homeland. In their time, they’ve turned down what one imagines would have been lucrative overtures from major labels, preferring to walk their own path and take complete control of their creative narrative.

Metric are also a band who have never slavishly followed the zeitgeist and despite some fans wanting them to simply churn out variations on classics such as “Monster Hospital” or “Dead Disco” ad Infinitum, that was never going to happen. Haines and Shaw have always sought to push themselves musically and creatively and thought deeply about what it means to be an artist. Perhaps even more so during the pandemic, with all the old certainties being swiftly upended.

And it’s that sense of artistic curiosity and unwillingness to compromise that’s apparent on Formentera. In the age of writing music to serve the needs of the mighty streaming algorithm gods, a major label would surely have had reservations about releasing “Doomscroller” as a single and an album opener?

The thing is “Doomscroller” isn’t just good, it’s magnificent. An epic 10-minute plus voyage that packs in more ambition, emotion, and sonic shifts than some artists manage over an entire career. It starts out as a darkly pulsating piece of dystopian electro pop noir before exploding into a relentless groove that could soundtrack a post-apocalyptic rave. Lyrically Haines evokes the anxiety of scrolling the 24 hour news cycles as well as dissatisfaction with our overlords with lyrical snippets such as “Salt of the earth, underpaid to serve and scrub the toilet/Ruling classes trickle piss from champagne glasses/That’s just how the evening passes.” A sense of calm is restored briefly as Haines takes to the piano before the song finishes with soaring anthemic Britpop guitars.

Other artists might perhaps be concerned that beginning an album with such a powerful opening statement could render the rest of the album something of anti climax. But that’s clearly not the case with Formentera. “All Comes Crashing,” a song of love and solidarity in the face of adversity is “classic Metric” as is previous single “What Feels Like Eternity,” which certainly expresses the sense of unease experienced during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

You could view the album as one that comes in three acts: anxiety, escapism, and catharsis. It questions the notions of how we cope with events beyond our control and how we come to terms with our own insignificance. Do we confront reality head-on, and embrace our “new normal” or do we seek relief and attempt to escape it, albeit if only in our mind? Whilst it’s not a binary “red pill” or “blue pill” scenario, the album does juxtapose reality with escapism and the Ibizan island of Formentera came to represent an idyllic refuge after the band came across it in a travel magazine during Canada’s strict lockdown. The title track itself, with its undulating Morodor-esque synths, does capture that sense of escapism and the calm after being in the eye of a storm.

Elsewhere “False Dichotomy” addresses the superficial nature of the binary choices we are often presented with whilst on the beautiful “Paths in the Sky,” Haines attempts to “cure the blues that seemed to be destroying me.”
It’s a beguiling mix of synth pop, New Wave, and alt rock that digs deep and whilst Formentera was informed by existential crisis and carries a distinct dystopian undertone, the overall impression it leaves you with is a sense of, not quite joie de vivre but certainly one of hope, and a wish to, as Haines puts it (on “I Will Never Settle”) to “never settle, it would crush our souls.” Which is a far more eloquent way of saying perhaps now it’s time to attempt to “live out best lives” because in this age of uncertainty and populism this might be as good as it gets. (www.ilovemetric.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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