Search The Line of Best Fit
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Metronomy – O2 Academy, Bristol 24/03/14

25 March 2014, 12:00 | Written by Matt Tomiak

With their fourth studio album and recent UK Top 10 chart entry Love Letters, Metronomy’s lugubrious, expressive electro rock has – perhaps a little surprisingly –managed to touch a real nerve.

A la Morrissey’s assessment of the coastal town that they forgot to close down, the Devon natives sculpt provincial frustration into gently transcendent pop music. Although their new record is a fairly downcast affair, there are some nice flourishes at tonight’s show. A Motown mix tape pre-empts the band’s arrival on stage, and when the quartet do finally appear, they’re clad in matching Ron Burgundy-style red crushed velvet blazer/white trouser combos (even if singer Joe Mount doesn’t quite possess a voice that could, ahem, make a wolverine purr.)

He does, however, repeat a gag he heard from a cabbie on the way to the venue about the local council before launching into “The Upsetter”, a track which bemoans both a lack of mobile phone reception and cultural identity on the south coast: “We live in 1992 here…playing Deacon Blue, playing I Will Always Love You…” Like a series of US indie cult heroes before them – think Death Cab For Cutie’s “A Movie Script Ending”, an examination of small town torpor in which “the people remain the same, with prices inflating” or The Dismemberment Plan’s Travis Morrison gazing wearily at a front room contacting the “same VCR, same cats” in “Spider In The Snow”, Metronomy fix their gaze on all-too-familiar inertia.

And there are plenty of these regretful sighs across Love Letters. “Month of Sundays” is another escapist daydream containing a promise to “take you away from this old horrible town” and “I’m Aquarius” is a melancholy duet lamenting a doomed relationship.

The more upbeat material such as “The Look” from 2011’s Mercury-nominated LP The English Riviera garners the evening’s biggest cheers; in between times, Mount’s anti-rock star anecdotes keep on coming. “Architecturally, it’s wicked round here” he beams before “The Bay”, another ode to the provincial which sends a nearby middle-aged man resembling Gary Oldman into a bout of ungainly but joyously uninhibited power moves.

It’s perhaps their most recognizable song to date, but Metronomy are still waiting for that genuine killer breakthrough tune. Nevertheless, it seems that this charming, if subdued, collection will finally bestow the mainstream’s approval upon them.

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