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Metronomy: Summer 08 *

Album Reviews:

Clash (magazine) - "As the album develops, so does his flirtation with polished '80s pop and disco rhythms, and he brings out Robyn on `Hang Me Out To Dry' to achieve this. `16 Beat', meanwhile, showcases his percussive side and age-old love of the drums."

Album Notes

From the lo-fi quirks of Pip Paine (Pay the œ5000 You Owe) to The English Riviera's pop brilliance, Metronomy's albums balance eccentric experiments and chart-worthy melodies in varying proportions. Following The English Riviera's success, Joe Mount reclaimed some of his fondness for the unexpected, first with the introspective, Motown-tinged Love Letters and then with Summer 08. As the title suggests, the fifth Metronomy album finds him reflecting on that period of time, just after the release of Nights Out and just before his wonky synth pop project won widespread acclaim. It's an approach that could be called back to basics, if the basics weren't so unusual: though the instincts that made The English Riviera possible were already there, Nights Out's chronicle of a disastrous night on the town sounded like club bangers played on toy instruments. Here, Mount filters those gawky grooves through years of experience, though the moody, slow-building finale "Summer Jam" proves he's as mischievous as ever. The album's first half, however, delivers bona fide jams: "Back Together" alternates between lurching riffs and luminous disco-funk as Mount reminisces about a long-ago lunch date, recalling the off-kilter catchiness of Nights Out's "My Heart Rate Rapid" while proving that not all nostalgia is comforting. The effects of time are more apparent on "Miami Logic," which takes a more expansive approach to rubbery textures and rhythms, and on "Old Skool," an envious portrait of posh West London frenemies that's funkier and meaner than anything on Nights Out. Meanwhile, "16 Beat" celebrates the love between a boy and his drum machine -- quite possibly Summer 08's longest-lasting relationship.

However, Mount's reflections on this era don't occur in a vacuum, and the melancholia of his later work resurfaces on Summer 08's second half. Sleekly bittersweet songs like "Night Owl" and "My House" evoke The English Riviera's winning blend of motion and emotions, while "Hang Me Out to Dry," a pulsing duet with Robyn mixed by Errol Alkan (who helped raise Mount's profile back in the day), continues Metronomy's tradition of inspired collaborations. Summer 08's ballads are more precisely poignant than those on Love Letters, whether Mount tempers his optimism on "Love's Not an Obstacle" or tries to make a moment last forever on "Mick Slow." Turning moments into music is the next best thing, and something that Mount excelled at in the years after Nights Out as he became a more eclectic, emotive artist. Summer 08's exuberance and sophistication are a testament to those skills, as well as to music's power to define and evoke a period in time -- and one of Metronomy's most enjoyable albums yet. ~ Heather Phares


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