Metronomy Love Letters (Because)
ON hitting a quarter million sales with an album, picking up critical plaudits and award nominations, most bands would use the leverage to get extra record company funding for the glorious widescreen album production they'd always dreamed of.
Not Joseph Mount and Metronomy.
Relocated to Brighton from Devon, the quartet had other ideas after the success of The English Riviera. Mainly getting back to the basics of 80s bedroom synth exploration.
So they decamped to Toe Rag Studios, an analogue set-up that sprang to prominence when used by The White Stripes.
As an art school project, Love Songs would get straight As. The title of the album is a giveaway. These days, love letters are something we find in books by studious academics.
Devoting 10 songs to a history project is a bit like having U2 present a musical about the Irish Lumper.
There are some glorious melodies employed here. So the fundamentals are in place.
And the band have the endearing qualities of eccentric relatives. On the finely chiselled The Most Immaculate Haircut, Mount complains of physical pain when he considers his love rival's tonsorial advantage.
"A shooting pain went down my leg and side . . ." Although the sounds of lapping water seems gratuitous and ill-judged.
It's easy to admire the cleverness, ambition and conceit of the endeavour.
Mixing Brill Building girl group "shoo-doop-doop-aah" backing vocals with faux-jazz ivory tinkling across a Latin Lounge drum beat that's built into some old electronic organs, they tease out a drama of a break-up on I'm Aquarius. "I can take the ring back where I got it from . . . "
Reservoir has the clanking drum machine and plinky synth stabs of early Air.
The Upsetter sets the tone. Long distance love is the dilemma. Letters? "I got to beam my message to ya, straight from the satellite," bleats Mount to a wobbly drum beat.
At times gauche, Love Letters is enjoyable. But there's a disquieting sense that had they been thinking more Abba than Flying Lizards, we might be discussing a minor masterpiece. HHHII