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Metric’s swift return with Formentera II is much more than a simple sequel

"Formentera II"

Release date: 13 October 2023
Metric Formentera II cover
13 October 2023, 09:00 Written by Simon Heavisides

Sequels can be problematic – cinematic history in particular is littered with disappointing examples.

In music it’s scarcely better. After the post-lockdown release of 2022’s Formentera I can Metric succeed where many have been left sprawling amidst their own hubris?

It’s time to look away if you don’t like spoilers, but the welcome news is that Metric have avoided the pitfalls and instead are acting like it’s the good old days all over again, firing out two excellent records in the space of a lightning-fast twelve months.

Formentera II was a secret they admit struggling to keep. This isn’t a simple case of making use of material held back from part one - Formentera II’s contents were completed in Paris in early 2023 after their Doomscroller tour had wrapped-up, so maybe there’s a case to be made that II benefits from the wisdom and experience gained while touring its predecessor.

This time around we don’t get a juggernaut like I’s show-stopping epic “Doomscroller” but that doesn’t mean Formentera II is a lesser album. There’s a sensitive simplicity to songs like the bruised but still-standing acoustic lullaby “Nothing is Perfect,” an elegiac quality that shows itself repeatedly and echoes the comments made recently by singer Emily Haines as she mused on the way past and present intertwine within the music. She went on to express amazement at the passing of twenty years since the release of debut album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? describing the band’s continuing existence as “miraculous”, a telling acknowledgment of the existential precarity they operate within.

This latest instalment of nine tracks thankfully plays to the multiple strengths honed over those years, providing the pace and variation that most leave missing in action.

Sometimes that’s revealed away from obvious singles or stand-out centrepieces; such as late in the album when “Descendants” transitions from anxious verses and worrying talk of “ripping the gun from the hands of the shooter” towards a dreamy wordless interlude that serves to remind us of Metric’s rare ability to successfully mix electronics with their indie-neo-new-wave roots.

But then they can also do ‘pop’. Appropriately described by Haines as “regret disco”, first single “Just the Once” marks the time, out there on the dancefloor, when euphoria meets sadness, a line that can often be blurred, the results hitting all the deeper. Funnily enough she also once chose Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out of my Head” as her karaoke song of choice, “Just the Once” demonstrates Metric can also produce a precision-tooled earworm when the mood takes them.

Emotionally this is a trip through the ups and the downs, the doubt and the wonder and all the conflicting feelings that make up an average day on planet earth in our warped fairground-mirror reality. Offering hope and consolation just when you need it, catharsis comes in the form of the self-explanatory finale, “Go Ahead and Cry”, simply because there are times when you have to.

Formentera II more than succeeds in claiming its own place in the world, less a sequel more a very satisfying entity in its own right – on this evidence Metric’s continuing existence seems entirely justified.

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