Starting an album with the words “I’m just as fucked up as they say” is a bold statement, especially when the album in question has nothing even remotely fucked up about it. That’s not to say Synthetica isn’t interesting; Metric‘s fifth album sounds quintessential, along with a concerted effort to achieve a level of danger. ‘Youth Without Youth’ possesses a driving Marilyn Manson-esque core bassline that steadfastly carries on throughout the song, underpinning mentions of hand grenades and throwing bricks through windows. It’s this core that damages the song though. Mildly industrial as it is, it lacks variety, thudding away at the same pace along the same notes until the track ends. ‘Dreams So Real’ suffers a similar fate, a simple effective tune that goes nowhere in the end, repeating until fade with no progression.
It’s basically a waiting game of an album. The feeling of impending excitement is there at the start of every song but rarely comes to fruition. The nearest moment to fullness is probably the ending of ‘Synthetica’, when an already spiky melodic rock song is joined by synths that recall triumphant brass – not unlike that peppered throughout Björk’s Volta – accentuating the urgency but disappearing all too soon, leaving the ear wanting when it stops. ‘The Wanderlust’ also offers that something extra, Emily Haines’ pretty but depthless vocals pitched against a gritty cameo by Lou Reed in such a way that they complement each other, unlikely as the pairing seems.
Simply put, what they do best is what they always did best, pop that is pleasing to the ear; ‘Speed The Collapse’ owning an elevating “ah-ah-ah-ah” chorus that reminds us of Metric gone by and ‘Breathing Underwater’ containing the kind of shimmering dreamy post-rock guitars and uplifting synths that make it a high point. Yes, the album does indeed have high points. It’s just unlikely to be held up as a classic.