12424-we-are-beautiful-we-are-doomedArtist: Los Campesinos!

Album: We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Released: 2008

Label: Wichita Recordings

N. Smith has been rather busy of late, so I’m hijacking his usual feature. Today’s Song of the Week comes from a spastic indie rock group out of Wales. The sound of Los Campesinos! is Architecture in Helsinki meets the Shout Out Louds meets the Arctic Monkeys. The group consists of seven members who play surprisingly conventional instruments aside from the glockenspiel (Gareth Campesinos!). Translator’s note: Los Campesinos means “The Peasants” or (“The Farmers” in Spanish).

“We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” is the title track for their second album and features an intro of synthesizer combined backed by some slick percussion on the part of (). After the guitars creep in minimal strings emerge and the singer starts to kick out the first verse. The singer’s second line is corny sounding enough to make the listener grimace, but is immediately followed by “As you squint and you grimace, we both know your heart’s not in it,” which may just be lampshading, but is never-the-less effective. The speaker is “trying to be sexy” and his feeble attempts at it seem to make him increasingly disillusioned. A harsh message for all you hopeful romantics out there, but well delivered.

The verses display his “realist” views, but the chorus retains a raw emotion throughout the entire song. The singer’s half spoken verses vary the style and the shouting choruses build until the song explodes with all the instruments pounding. If you have trouble understanding the lyrics, by all means Google them — it’ll be worth it. Have a listen:

For the official single “You! Me! Dancing!” off their first album, check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj6SO_yKMe8

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Fantasies Review

April 20, 2009

fantasies-metric-reduced1  Artist: Metric

  Album: Fantasies

  Released: April 14, 2009

  Label: Metric/Last Gang

 

              

For those of you unfamiliar with Metric, the band hails from Canada and plays energetic pop-rock written by the dazzling Emily Haines.  Haines is also the main vocalist and gained a great deal of fame as a member of Broken Social Scene, especially for her song “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” off the album “You Forgot It in People.”

Metric has been touring mostly in Canada since their last truly new material came out four years ago as Live It Out.  Grow Up and Blow Away was released in 2007, but was comprised of old material that would chronologically have been their first album; situating it between their “Static Anonymity EP” and “Old World Underground Where Are You Now?”  During the past four years Emily Haines has released two solo albums under the name Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton.  Metric’s latest album is evidence that if Haines didn’t come into her own as a writer while solo, then she certainly found a new center before “Fantasies.”

The album kicks off with “Help I’m Alive,” an almost mesmerizing song that teeters between brazen pop and well, even more brazen pop.  The song uses the driving energy of their more punk rock albums and explodes it with echoing synth and hissing ambience.  “Satellite Mind” is the quintessence of classic Metric rock, with pounding bass and exhilarating vocals.  “Twilight Galaxy” lets the energy level drop and showcases the more chill side of the band, maintaining that aspect demonstrated before in songs like “Calculation Theme.”  The first few times I listened through the album “Gold Guns Girls” always took me by surprise  The guitar intro is jarring and throws the listener back into a vigorous rhythm and sharp riff, which is a minor shock coming straight out of the previous track.

“Gimme Sympathy” is incredibly catchy, indeed it was deemed “dangerously catchy” by N. Smith the first time he heard it.  It is catchy on the level where you find yourself humming it the following day.  “Collect Call,” “Front Row,” and “Blindness” is the only part of the album that might be considered a lull.  Those three tracks are well written, but lack the distinction that most of the songs on “Fantasies” exude.  The album closes with the roaring synth and raucous drumming of “Stadium Love.”

The lyrics of “Fantasies” contain a great deal of uncertainty, but the music is assured and even grand.  It is a sort of confidence in uncertainty, which is probably a result of Emily Haines’ soul-searching time spent in Buenos Aires prior to writing “Fantasies.”  The lyrical material is broad, and focuses on human interaction on a personal level more than previous albums.  Personal doubt is ubiquitous at times as in “Help I’m Alive,” and rebellion in the face of relationship confines seems to be the topic of “Sick Muse.”

Metric also revisits political/social criticism with “Gold Guns Girls,” where they censure material greed as well as objectification of women.  However, this song does not target a population directly, but is addressed to a particular person – another example of the personal level of “Fantasies.”  In what is absolutely the catchiest song on the album, “Gimme Sympathy” pleads with you to stick with unknowns and real feeling – and why wouldn’t you?  The finale of “Fantasies” is “Stadium Love,” and Haines displays the confidence that has always been there as she assures the listeners that “No one’s getting out, Without stadium love.”

 

You can hear the whole album here:

http://www.ilovemetric.com/