Metronomy at Brixton AcademyCultureMusicLive music
Nigh-on two years ago, in the handsome if oddly decorated village of Portmeirion in north Wales, Metronomy were asked to headline the opening night of Festival No. 6. They did so, without too much fanfare, rattling off hits from their previous four albums. The surprise came towards the end, when a visibly exhausted Joseph Mount announced to the audience that “that was it” and promptly informed the collected revellers that a hiatus would begin immediately after the show. The pressure and intensity had clearly worn them down, and largely passive reviews of their then most recent record, Love Letters, combined with relentless touring, meant that enough was enough. At least for the time being…
Yet a little over a year later, and seemingly out of the blue, came Summer 08, a stomping return to form from Mount and co, and the record they were more than happy to show off to a standing-room-only Brixton Academy.
Kicking off with album openers Back Together, Miami Logic and Old Skool, it was immediately obvious that a break has done Metronomy a world of good. The snap was back and the crowd was basking in every moment. 2011 classic The Bay soon followed, before the delightfully minimal 16 Beat got feet moving. The band have always been chameleons of musical style, ranging from the aggressive pop rhythms of Pip Paine and Nights Out to the more refined sweater-on-the-shoulders feel of The English Riviera, but the one constant has always been that Wes Anderson-inspired awkwardness of their live performances. Bedecked in white, and jerking around like crudely oiled robots, they always seem to be slightly at odds with their own success.
While they were more than happy to lather the audience in all the favourites from The English Riviera and Summer 08, a lack of those perennial classics from Nights Out was conspicuous and when they did come, in the form of My Heart Rate Rapid and On Dancefloors, they were disappointing. You can’t begrudge a group with five records under their belt to rest on their laurels, but there was a sense that the album, which arguably brought them thundering into critical view, deserved a little more respect.
Metronomy are back and there is no denying that it’s a good thing. Their brand of silky synth pop (to tarnish them with one enormous brush), in a contemporary world where homogeneity reigns supreme, is a welcome relief. They took the roof off Brixton with consummate ease; however, one hopes that while they continue to move forward, they don’t lose too much sight of the raw edge of their past.
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Watch the video for Old Skool here: