From the crammed debauchery of Nights Out to the considered restraint of The English Riviera, it’s almost hard to believe that both these albums came from the same band. But Metronomy’s third offering – a warm reimagining of youthful summers on the coast of southwest England – is a long way from the cluttered, fervent electro-pop that came before. Previously the creative endeavours of one man and his studio, Metronomy has benefited greatly from the addition of Anna Prior and Gbenga Adelekan. Creating space and dimension, the added rhythm section is more relaxed, no less intense.
From the off, the evocation of the seaside is strong – salt, seagulls and sand all bundled in – as the waves roll in the Riviera-titled opener, which effortlessly segues into a lazy bass-laden dream – ‘We Broke Free’. From those searching synths and a wistful lament from frontman Joseph Mount, dreaming that one day “we’d get together” to the sweet whistle-pop of ‘Everything Goes My Way’ as Roxanne Clifford from London band Veronica Falls sings her simple refrain of being in love again. Sweet and candied, the misty memory of summer romance.
The album is sprinkled with gems. Restrained and haunting, ‘The Look’ is a beautifully whimsical piece of layered vocals, shimmering bass and looped organ, which constantly develops and builds without ever losing its cool. So deliberate and certain is its composition, it ought to feel clinical but instead it flows, long and fluid. And while the synth solo closing in ‘The Bay’ may be a joy in itself, the glorious preface of Mount’s ode to his hometown is pure synth-soaked, sophisti-disco. And ‘Corinne’s’ upbeat 80s metronome belies a dark, little pop song with a fabulously engaging sing-a-long “boom bang” vocal.
An album that has been thought about, craftsmanship that has been contemplated and carefully created, The English Riviera is a pure joy, a memory of the old-style English seaside – sandcastles and beach huts, simplicity and innocence. We may never have been there but with eyes closed the layered harmonies, sweeping, looped electronics and silky bass transport us to the Devonshire coast as if it were our own childhood being relived through song.