It never hurts to go back to your roots. Back in 2008 when Metronomy’s Joe Mount had just finished working on his second album Nights Out (the last record he produced from the confines of his own home), he was ready for his band to embark on the next stage of their journey. The subsequent ascension to the recording studio resulted in Metronomy’s style progressing from its bedroom dance-pop origins to a more substantial electro-indie sound, as well as the release of two massive albums in 2011’s The English Riviera, and 2014’s Love Letters.
You always felt however, that the whimsical sense of fun that dominated their earlier material always had a bearing on the band’s approach, with Mount always more inclined to advance his production skills rather than imposing any major stylistic changes. Their new record Summer 08 revisits this early spirit of boisterous juvenescence in a big way, while simultaneously demonstrating how the band has evolved in the interim period.
Opening track ‘Back Together’ represents this more than any other, its tumultuous structure and outlandish beat pattern announcing a welcome return to the zany world of Joe Mount, but it’s noticeable how refined this revisited style has become. While a track like current single release ‘Old Skool’ (ft. Beastie Boys’ Mix Master Mike) would’ve felt right at home had it appeared on either Pip Paines or Nights Out, there’s no question that it would have sounded as good as it does here. This is as much testament to Mount’s vastly improved production skills over time (witness the epic switch-over in the middle of the song), as it is an indication that he is now making the sort of music he is most happy with.
Of course there’s more to Summer 08 than just slick production and an invigorating sense of fun. The identifiably catchy bass hooks and bubbly beat-driven melodies that made Metronomy such a popular dance act remain with songs like ‘Miami Logic’, ’16 Beat’ and ‘My House’ going down a particular treat. ‘Hang Me Out To Dry’, featuring Swedish pop star Robyn, is a joyously authentic slice of grounded electro-pop, while splashes of downbeat electronica in the form of ‘Mick Slow’, ‘Love’s Not an Obstacle’, and the resonating final track ‘Summer Jam’, add a delicate balance to proceedings.
Lyrically, Summer 08 is also an intriguing animal, harking back to Mount’s vivacious days in early noughties London, (he recently admitted he had to try and remember what it was like to go out partying) but they also exhibit a distinct maturity owing to his current lifestyle as a settled Parisian family man.
In terms of general appeal, Summer 08’s lack of a real anthemic single may be an issue for some, but apart from that there’s more than enough on here to love. A reminiscent masterclass from a group in their prime.