Release Date: Apr 11, 2011
Record label: Because
Aside from being the greatest invention in popular culture since recorded sound itself, YouTube is notable mainly as a forum for an ugly gaggle of white supremacists, misogynists, homophobes and other examples of humanity so shining we don’t yet have labels for them to air their badly spelt opinions. But in between all the “i bet ur moms a fagot lol” stuff there’s the odd thin straw of coherence to clutch at. The one I’m thinking of comes from a – presumably non-British – listener to ‘On Dancefloors’, the wonky epic that closed Metronomy’s 2008 tour de force Nights Out.
Previously a nu-rave trio in the mould of Klaxons, Metronomy, the brainchild of Joseph Mount, have changed tack for their third studio album, The English Riviera, following the departure of original member Gabriel Stebbing three years earlier. Having permanently recruited the talents of bassist Gbenga Adelekan and former Lightspeed Champion drummer Anna Prior, the follow-up to 2008's Nights Out, abandons their indie-disco sensibilities in favor of a more laid-back but equally idiosyncratic, sun-kissed sound which positions them as avant-garde purveyors in the vein of Saint Etienne rather than debauched glowstick wavers. But while its opening number, a 37-second snatch of cowing seagulls and distant waves lapping against the shore, may evoke the glamorous beaches of California, its remaining self-produced ten tracks are very much a love letter to both Mount's hometown of Totnes in Devon, and a romantic fantasy of the title's seaside resort he used to drive around in, blasting Ace of Base as a youth.
Metronomy leader Joe Mount rather grandly "splits his time between London and Paris" these days, but it's Totnes, Devon – his hometown – that's been on his mind lately. The album's title and its music are a homage to Mount's native south-west – but it's a sunny, west coastified version, in which cool people drink tequila sunrises and Steely Dan tunes waft out of seafront bars. The English Riviera is miles removed from the glowstick-waving indie-dance that previously characterised Metronomy – instead, it piles on ambling good vibes and darts of sweet synth, along with basslines that sculpt songs into various shapes: Latin-funky on Everything Goes My Way (a completely gorgeous duet by Mount and guest vocalist Roxanne Clifford), soft-rocky on Trouble.
Devonshire, England's Metronomy have traveled an impressive stylistic distance in the short span of three albums. The group began in 2006 as glitchy electronic smirkers, proffering a garishly irreverent take on chinstroking IDM. Yet for their third full-length effort, The English Riviera, they've fully transitioned into a sleek, urbane pop-rock outfit, taking polished cues from the well-heeled likes of Steely Dan and Phoenix.
In 1999, Metronomy formed in Totnes, Devon, a part of England’s south coast that’s often affectionately referred to as ‘The English Riviera. ” A holiday favorite for people across England, the area — of which Totnes is just one town — epitomizes all those things that English holidays, rightly or wrongly, are supposed to espouse: warm weather, on and off; a cold sea with beautiful waves; stretches of surprisingly elegant-looking sand, plus ice cream and weird beach huts selling average chips. And that’s where Metronomy’s third album, not surprisingly called The English Riviera, begins: opening with the sounds of seagulls and the gentle lulling of the sea, a wistfully nostalgic string melody playing quietly into “We Broke Free”, evoking memories of 1950s English beach holidays.
A few years ago Metronomy seemed destined to be the eternal bridesmaids of the nu-rave scene (a particularly galling fate considering the fact that they predated most of the other acts who had been lumped together under the description). Although founder member Joseph Mount was clearly a talented songwriter, he rarely received much in the way of recognition for this and the band looked set to be best remembered for being the band who did synchronized dance routines involving lights stuck on their chests. So, it was something of a surprise when ecstatic early word emerged about their latest album, comparing it to the likes of Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac.
An address of twisting rhythms and taut tunes for a reimagined English southwest. Natalie Shaw 2011 Joseph Mount, the man behind Metronomy, hails from Totnes in Devon. You’d never have guessed it from the locationless indie-disco of his earlier music, but the third Metronomy album sees him carefully hone in on the charms of southwest England. The market town in question is reimagined as (a different/fantasy) the English Riviera, a romantic destination where magic happens – and it’s apparent from the get-go, with the sound of cawing seagulls opening the album’s first song.