“Are you OK?”
Joe Mount bursts in to laughter as we sit across a table in the back room of Metronomy’s label offices, the chosen location for today’s marathon of interviews promoting new album Love Letters. “Everyone today, all the interviewers seemed to have started the interviews being like, ‘How are you?’” He tells me, “And I’m fine!”
“But the new album is a bit sad?” I explain.
“It doesn’t strike me as that sad, but there you go”, he replies.
“Maybe if you were in a sad mood already?”
“It’s all things to all people. No, but I’m absolutely fine.”
Well, that’s good to know. For a lot of bands it seems the fourth album can be the one where things start to fall apart – although Metronomy have always been a band in flux. First came their 2006 nu-rave debut Pip Paine, followed by its jaunty breakthrough follow-up Nights Out, where the then trio of boys would flash around the stage in costumes that doubled up as a makeshift lighting rig. And then one member left, two joined, and their accomplished third offering, The English Riviera, was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.
Today, Joe stands solo in the press shot used to accompany the announcement of Love Letters, but fear not, Oscar, Anna and Gbenga are still very much a part of Metronomy. Quite simply, the group photos weren’t very good. “I suppose the way we had to justify it is it’s like a re-introduction,” Joe excuses, as he searches through his phone for the new photos. “There we all are, look,” he offers, holding up some dazzling new photos that show all four members in snazzy blazers. “Everyone’s fine!”
Although all four members of Metronomy are fine, on Love Letters the band take things far past such a settling adjective. It’s heartbreaking at times, but entirely captivating throughout, remaining constantly slick and suave. They’re pop songs, delivered with the idiosyncrasy we’ve come to love from Joe & Co. But with most of the record written in Paris during breaks from touring, how much was Joe working solo and how much was collaborative?
“I guess in all bands you have a taskmaster,” he replies with a slight grimace. “Or a person that’s writing all the songs. And some bands don’t like to draw attention to it because it ruins the idea of a band, or whatever, but everyone knows it. But having said that, with this record, the tracks that sound like there’s a band playing – is the band. The biggest part of the creative process is recording and so I’m slowly becoming more relaxed about it and being less of a control freak.”
Debut 2006 album Pip Paine was at its time a very forward-thinking and progressive record, but with influences such as Sly and the Family Stone informing Love Letters, this feels like Metronomy’s most retrospective offering.
“Fuck you!” Joe shouts, followed by a cheeky giggle. “I think that the first album is still really representative of me and what I do and like. At the same time as I’ve been trying to get more interesting as a songwriter, I’ve been trying to learn more about production, and if you start making music on a computer and you start producing on a computer, then unless you want to be like, cutting, cutting edge, your interest is going to take you back. Lots of things are happening simultaneously. I’m trying to get better at songwriting and I’m also trying to learn more about production, and I guess it looks like each record gets further and further back in time.”