Emily Haines: Indie rock icon. Dynamic frontwoman. Leader of a band with… (Tribune File Photo )
*** (out of four)
No matter what this review says, I can guarantee you that devotees of Metric and the band's frontwoman, Emily Haines, will continue to drink the Metric Kool-Aid. If the band's new album, "Synthetica," now streaming in full on Soundcloud, were one of the worst albums of the 21st century, Metric fans would insist it was a "growing pains" period, even though the band hasn't changed lineups, styles or even their damn haircuts in a decade.
The good news, though, is that the Kool-Aid tastes good. "Synthetica" more than lives up to its expectations from die-hard fans, who have been salivating for some new material. Announced earlier this year and not officially released until June 12, "Synthetica" is the first full-length from Metric since 2008's "Fantasies"--my absolute favorite among their five albums. So what's new with the band? Not a whole a lot. And to be honest, that's probably just fine.
The first single from the album, "Youth Without Youth," has practically burned a hole through my speakers. But although it's one of the best tracks, it's also ridiculously misleading. The pace is faster, the guitars thump a little harder, it screams "Party Anthem" and the lyrics don't sync up with anything else on the album. No complaints here with the song itself, but as the first single to introduce us to the new material and as the second chronological track, it's a little disappointing to see that the band didn't swing with this glam-rock-heavy style further with the rest of the album.
Moving on...much of the rest of "Synthetica" feels like a bit of a time warp to the band's earlier albums, like "Live it Out." Dreamy, synthy, mostly upbeat sounds on top of considerably emotional lyrics. Again, not a bad thing--"Live it Out" is a classic album--but the band's last album, "Fantasies" seemed like such a departure into the indie-pop arena for Metric that seeing them carry that even further with this, their first album in four years, would have floored most fans. Tracks like "The Void," "Speed the Collapse" and "Synthetica" keep the pace moving, but "Youth Without Youth" still stands out.
I'll continue to drink the Metric Kool-Aid and spin the new album throughout the summer, but if you're expecting "Synthetica" to be an album full of summer anthems with a little more of a pulse behind it, you might be a bit disappointed. Don't say I didn't warn you--and please don't come after me, Metric die-hards.
Listen to the full album, streaming now on Soundcloud.