Metronomy - Shepherds Bush Empire, London - 16/4/11
18 Apr 2011
“It’s extremely encouraging that a band three albums into their career are being allowed to develop so satisfyingly...”
For anyone not having read a newspaper recently, it is important to confirm that alongside international upheaval, our recent Band of the WeekMetronomy’s new album The English Rivera has been deemed ‘jolly good’. It’s a shameless embrace of front-man Joe Mount’s hometown of Torbay in south Devon, and while it’s unlikely to be sound-tracking the UN withdrawal from Libya, a bidding war is surely underway as counties along England’s south coast fight for the right to use it in their tourist ads.
If you think the album’s good, the live show is even better. They already have a loyal following, and if a lack of balding heads facing the stage indicates a band’s health, then Metronomy are peaking; the kids are down with this. The obvious chemistry between Mount and fellow founding member (multi-instrumentalist) Oscar Cash is complemented by newcomers bassist Gbenga Adelekan and drummer Anna Prior, strangely reminiscent of Kate Radley from Spiritualized. They both contribute so tightly to the richer sound, and with every studio trick, synth sweep and harmony replicated so effortlessly, it’s like they’ve always been there. It’s extremely encouraging that a band three albums into their career are being allowed to develop so satisfyingly.
It’s a simple set up: sheets hung behind them and no image trickery, other than the band wearing their trademark one-boob bras, or medallions they perhaps call them. It is the sort of mystery you know will soon be revealed. Indeed shortly into the incessant beats of new song ‘Love Underlined’, the lights dim and the medallions begin strobing white heart beats across the room. From here to the wig out of ‘Heart Rate Rapid’ the band flit between scratchy geek funk, house and two-tone, while the album highlight ‘The Bay’ is astonishing; pure abandonment, with its insatiably defiant chorus demoting London, and indeed Paris and Tokyo, as being the centres of the universe (in favour of Torbay, of course), underpinned by gloriously driving disco. The Daft Punk gone punk of ‘Heartbreaker’ sends the younger fans into a pogoing frenzy, as does the pounding Hot Chip-esque ‘A Thing For Me’.
Recent single ‘She Wants’ is reminiscent of the Cure at their lightest; the perfect soundtrack for driving through the city. Its mantra-like coda of ‘the hours come’ sounds like the most important thing you’ve ever heard, even if you’re unsure what it really means. It’s further evidence of being in the company of a good band.
They occasionally remain the “spiky synth, wonk-pop party band” of yore, with some reworked earlier tracks, such as ‘Radio Ladio’, demonstrating you can remain edgy while being accessible. The line between band and their crowd is charmingly thin, and with more gigs like this, the world is theirs. This success must be particularly edifying following a return to their roots for inspiration: through being themselves, they have found themselves.