Albums

Metronomy - Nights Out

Sel Bulut 14/10/2008

Rating: 4.5/5

If 2008 is going to be remembered for anything, it should be as the year that pop music went good again. Too long subjected to trite and repetitive indie pop nestling alongside the usual production-line club hits and r'n'b, it seems that - finally - some genuine innovators have come along to sort it out. New releases from acts like Late Of The Pier, Neon Neon and Esser are coming to light, whilst established bands like The Mystery Jets and now Metronomy with their new album have decided not to go the usual direction most bands do with their sophomore efforts and explore the weirder aspects of their sound but to release a straight-out pop record. And this off-kilter, totally charming synth pop is pulled off utterly, utterly perfectly 'Nights Out'.

The second Metronomy LP and the first featuring a full band (their debut release, 'Pip Paine (Pay The 5000 You Owe)', was a solo effort from frontman Joseph Mount), this is a much more confident, varied and accomplished effort than the debut. This is mainly due to Mount's decision to exercise his vocal chords this time around - the first album being largely instrumental save for a very bizarre and distorted turn on one of the tracks - and it just so happens to be fantastic for it. Mount's voice is perfectly suited to the Metronomy sound - never dominating but at the same time not a monotonous drawl - even sounding genuinely passionate on one of the album's many highlights, previous single Heartbreaker.

Asides from the discovery that Mount is a great vocalist there's still a lot more to admire on the album. Foremost is how it stands on a technical level. The production is great, as anyone who has heard one of Metronomy's many remixes would expect - comparing the album's Cash Convertors-grade synthesisers to, say, the pompous, grandiose orchestras of The Last Shadow Puppets reveals a much more sincere and addictive quality in its stripped back simplicity. This thankfully never ends up sounding cheap, as it does for a band like Hadouken!, partly because of how astounding it stands technically. Tracks like A Thing For You and On Dancefloors are perfect examples of this, opening with the most simple hooks (vocals and synthetic beats respectively) but evolving into something magical by the end of their running time. Other instrumental tracks like The End Of You Too and the intro and outro tracks hark back to the debut, and are so intricately and immaculately composed you can't help but be drawn into them.

And in between all this are the excellent singles Holiday, Radio Ladio and My Heart Rate Rapid, as well as the previously mentioned Heartbreaker, all as brilliant as they were upon initial release. The strength of these tracks alone left scepticism that the rest of the album wouldn't match up to them but 'Night Out' has surpassed all expectation, with every single being both an obvious highlight and a perfect complement to the rest of the album (which is, incidentally, a concept album. That's cool enough in itself.)

If 2008 is the year of wonderful synth pop gone completely awry, then 2008 is a very good year - and 'Nights Out' is our autumn soundtrack. Of course we all know it'll never be remembered for this, as is the case when you get something genuinely adventurous, but whatever - it's all certainly a lot better than the collective ejaculation over the Glasvegas record.