“I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do it,” asserts all-things-Metronomy guru Joseph Mount on single Salted Caramel Ice Cream, the phrase itself sexually geared towards the prior line’s “Oh God, she’s coming – don’t look up,” but equally relevant to Metronomy’s own output since the truly profound The English Riviera, itself released in 2011.
By no means meant as a ding, it is quite simply an honest truth that Metronomy struggled to follow-up such a phenomenal album with anything that had the same cultural impact – tapping into the zeitgeist is an immensely challenging thing to do, and most likely occurs by accident. Mount is far from oblivious, however, as new album title, Metronomy Forever, ironically suggests.
Having moved to Paris and back with children, Mount has evolved as an artist – and truly my suspicion is that it is when he is at his most comfortable that he produces his best music. Clearly contemplative and self-aware, The English Riviera was famously based upon his own memories and experiences of a certain aspect of English seaside life of yore, and the brilliance of this authenticity shone throughout the album. On Metronomy Forever, we encounter a mature Mount nonchalantly considering his own legacy, having lived through the vivisection of his nu-rave contemporaries from hyper à la mode to utterly disposable, nostalgic, house party fodder. How challenging that must be to face as an artist not even at the forefront of that genre, but capable of doing everything yourself and striving for authenticity.
Mount’s answer is simply not to give a fuck and to be himself. The lack of desperation to be relevant that pervades the album is its greatest strength. Mount remains more than capable of knocking out wonderful electro-indie pop, as Lately demonstrates. He is also now comfortable to marry assertive sexuality, or more knowing self-expression, with his unique lyrical perspective, as in Whitsand Bay. In prior work, Mount often buried personality behind allusory timidity.
Metronomy Forever nods both to a more classic Mount sound whilst pushing forward into more nuanced songwriting, for those who care to listen. At seventeen tracks, including the return of instrumentals (Driving) that hark back to Mount’s earliest work, there are many rewards to be found, but equally – even for the casual Metronomy fan – some of the album can feel directionless and thus hard work. This was a conscious decision; Mount told Dazed he felt streaming has changed the album and, like many artists, he has thus experimented a little with the format. The result is an album that gives a flavour for Metronomy’s entire oeuvre, to both newcomer and fan alike. It’s quite clever, in the context of forever.
Nevertheless, this point taps into a strange duality:
Metronomy Forever is Mount’s strongest release since The English Riviera, in that it has compelling singles and obliges multiple listens. It is a multi-faceted record that revels in both indulging the Metronomy sound of yore and developing a more mature perspective, as Ur Mixtape’s ironic musings on legacy demonstrate.
On the other hand, is this album going to change your life? No. Is it as pivotal and contemporaneously relevant as The English Riviera? No – indeed, it can veer into ambient Metronomy – acknowledged by Mount – and it’s a little dull.
Yet, times change and, as Mount’s nonchalance and perspective demonstrates, if this were to be Metronomy’s last album, would it be considered pretty good? Yes – it’s quite a nice sign-off. On the other hand, Mount has joked about intentionally signing off with a ‘mega low’ final album of Rat Pack covers, to ensure he goes out on a real stinker. I think I’d find that pretty funny, too.
Our perspective? For the Metronomy fan, this their first new album in some time worth owning on record. For the casual listener, give the album a try – if you like what you hear, Nights Out and The English Riviera are better further listening.