Members of the hyperactive Canadian music scene, Metric, have never achieved the mainstream success their music deserves, remaining less recognised for their own work than their contributions to Toronto super-group Broken Social Scene. They remain best remembered for ‘Monster Hospital’, an anti-war anthem released in 2006, which threatened to break the mainstream, but despite considerable MTV2 airplay, in the end it progressed no further than featurng on the soundtracks of Grey’s Anatomy and CSI (the MSTRKRFT remix also makes worthwhile listening). Fantasies is the first original output since, attempting to follow up on the underground success of Monster Hospital.
Being an art-rock band fronted by an attractive female, comparisons with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are obvious; but it is difficult to listen to Metric’s music without noticing a slight resemblance. The delivery of lyrics by Emily Haines is very akin to that of Karen O; capable of transitioning between lively and aggressive to soft and gentle singing. “Help, I’m Alive” is a perfect example of this versatility, building up from a minimal beginning to a grand crescendo as any album opener should do and containing a highly chantable chorus perfectly suited for a live outing. The rest of the album runs at a mixed pace; jumping between mellow and high tempo. As an album it demonstrates the electronic influence noticeable on their previous records, and increasingly present in modern ‘alternative’ albums.
Aside from the single, “Help, I’m Alive”, “Gimme Sympathy” also stands out as a potential crowd favourite from the album, demonstrating the same upbeat style as the opener and containing the memorable line, “who would you rather be, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” However, the problem with Fantasies lies in that, while containing an impressive collection of songs, it just doesn’t work well as an album. Following “Gimme Sympathy”, which builds up throughout before exploding at the end, is “Collect Call” which is laid back to the point of horizontal. It’s a cock-tease of an album, every time it appears to be hitting full flow it comes crashing back down to earth, threatening to go further before crashing and burning.
Fantasies as a title is frighteningly apt, as you can’t help but fantasize about how much better this could have been as an album. As a collection of singles, Fantasies is worthy of your ears, but it is an extremely difficult album to listen to chronologically the whole way through; the album just couldn’t be described as cohesive. It is a shame, as exciting tracks such as “Front Row”, “Help, I’m Alive”, and “Gimme Sympathy” deserve to be implemented far better than they are. (For more information and a free download, head to www.myspace.com/metric)