1. She Wants
2. The Look
1. The Look (Ghost Poet remix)
Anyone expecting more of the same digital melancholia as heard on "Nights Out" is in for a shock. "The English Riviera", Metronomy's third album, is a belting, unashamed pop album. A gorgeous record full of languid, sunset funk songs, which looks set to propel Metronomy even further than they have travelled thus far. The gorgeous "Everything Goes My Way", featuring the voice of Roxanne Clifford of Veronica Falls, is an understated summer classic. The organ hook that defines "The Look" burrows into your head and doesn't leave. Crucially too, it is an album that is even more danceable than its predecessor.
"If I stayed recording in my bedroom", explains founding member, Joseph Mount, "it would be like when rappers keep rapping about their street lifestyle when they are obviously a lot better off. Now it would be a real decision for me to keep doing it on a shit computer, with a battered soundcard. For the first time ever, as studios are cheaper due to the recession, it is in the realms of possibility [for us to record in one]. It might sound quite hypocritical of me, but the problem with home recording is people think that anyone can make music on computers without putting the work in. You forget that there is this real tradition of recording music this way".
The new album was recorded in a converted garage in Wapping, east London. "We did it in a studio called the Smokehouse, run by a proper old school guy who is always talking about the Faces and Led Zeppelin", says Mount. "Maybe next time it will be in LA, but for now it's Wapping".
In contrast to the obvious nocturnal adventures of "Nights Out", "The English Riviera" floats over calm waters on a balmy summer's day, with Mount swapping on-edge, dark fuzziness for the warm studio feel of classic 1970s artists, such as Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder. Though Mount splits his time between London and Paris these days, the album was born out of a newfound focus on where he started making music over a decade ago: Devon.
"I just fantasised that this area was a cutting edge place of music and youth culture, which it isn't at all", Mount explains. "Imagining that this part of England creates a specific kind of music - the 'Devon Sound' - similar to West Coast studio music of the 1970s. If you went there and you had the geographical landscape in mind you'd end up making quite reflective, introspective music. This was just me writing a fantasy about Devon being this cool place like Portland, Oregon, so saying 'I'm from the English Riviera' to the music press would get you a few column inches, instead of remind you of Fawlty Towers".
Mount recalls tuning into regional radio when growing up in Devon, hearing songs like "American Pie" by Don McLean, and "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. "I would always have the same reaction to those songs. I remember hearing "Dreams", I was like, "Oh fuck I hate this song. I don't know why, but I hate it so much'". Yet a later epiphanal listening session transformed his attitude. "A few years ago, I bought "Rumours", and when I heard "Dreams" I thought, 'Oh my God, this is completely amazing'. It had been there all along in my subconscious, and I suddenly thought that Fleetwood Mac are great and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Being as cocaine-fuelled as they were and also doing this amazing music, which is also really catchy, that's pretty impressive".
The period between "Nights Out" saw a line up change with Gabriel Stebbing leaving, Joseph Mount and Oscar Cash to be joined by new members Anna Prior and Gbenga Adelekan, filling out the line up on drums and bass respectively. "When we started, the three of us wanted to get to the point where we were literally just playing live," Mount explains. "It has taken a while, but now we don't use backing tracks or anything like that, it is all completely played and so is more of a spectacle".
Mount is pleased with the path the band is heading down, although he is still keen to keep things fresh next time round. "I definitely had no intention of doing the same thing again. I like the stuff that changes", he says. "I still feel like we're starting out in our career. One day there might come a time when we'll have released a huge output that people can draw lines between and look for similarities".
"The English Riviera", Metronomy's third album, is released 11 April 2011.
Metronomy’s third album, “The English Riviera” (released April 11) , brings a change of direction for Joseph Mount and his (now) four piece band. Its title, referencing a marketing campaign from the late 80s promoting Devon’s tourism industry, is key here. Mount, reportedly, imagining a genre of music specific to the Devon coast, as his inspiration. As a result it moves away from the angular, and sometimes dreary notes of the preceding “Nights Out” and “Pip Paine [Pay The £5000 You owe]“. “The English Riviera”, is an altogether warmer, more human piece of work, but that’s not to say that the audio aesthetic behind the previous two albums has been completely abandoned.
There are still more than a few Giorgio Moroder soundtracked moments, and there are points where the synthesisers sound as though they’re being used against their will, to make noises that push them past their safe operating parameters. What makes this album different though, is that these pockets of darkness are used to punctuate what would otherwise be 11 tracks of lush retro sunshine.
Opening intro “The English Riviera” sets the scene with seagull sound effects, seamlessly becoming the first proper track “We Broke Free” with its lazy funk bass line, synth choruses and two juxtaposing guitar parts one. One that sounds as though it belongs to Fleetwood Mac, and another more fiercely distorted and sustained. “Everything Goes My Way” introduces a briefly discordant square wave note, quickly making way for a surprising summery love song featuring Roxanne Clifford of Veronica Falls on the main vocal.
Then back to the pier for “The Look”, its effortlessly English seaside organ motif running through the majority of the song. Another laid back funky bassline and trumpet voiced keys complete the make-up of a song, that would be the perfect soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto - Totnes, as unlikely as it is that such a game would ever get made.
The mood changes for what has to be the stand out track of the album, “She Wants”. Instantly darker and stormier, with its “Cat People” era Moroder driven moodiness. All the instruments, except the tight new wave guitar, seem to share the same low snarling effect, Mount’s vocal included. It has to be said, this track benefits from being listened to with the lavish video that accompanied the single release, forming a sort of mini David Lynch movie, to complete the dark tension the song generates. Here on the album though it forms the soundtrack to some sleepless night filled with humidity, warm breeze, thunder and lightning.
The mood changes again for “Trouble”, another faultless sunny, laid back romantic pop song. Track 7, “The Bay”, is a more jarring electronic song, albeit with its blissfully sunny disco intervals. “Loving Arm” too, allows the older minimal Metronomy to creep back in. “Corinne” is another stand out track, its tonally muted guitars, and girlish backing vocals perfectly emulating those of the new wave/pop era, Mount and Cash seem keen to recreate here.
Penultimate track, “Some Written”, another chilled track, centres around electric piano and Mount’s growing confidence as a singer, before the tracks sees out its six minutes with a warm, reverbed stylophone/synth solo. Final track “Love Underlined” floats away from the coastal theme, beginning as a percussive disorientating mash of sounds and vocals, before various analogue synth sections turn it into a sort of 70s sci-fi mini symphony, bringing the Summer season to an end.
What Mount and Metronomy have done here is very clever. From the very first listen, memories of childhood holidays spent at English seaside resorts spring into mind. It is incredibly emotive, and referential to a recently bygone British culture, where the noisy slot machines, discos and bars of Butlins Minehead, meet the undiscovered coves and waves of England’s South West coast. “The English Riviera” is a beautiful album. Cunningly crafted, but never over produced, it should prove a real ear opener for existing fans, and serve as a perfect introduction for a wider audience.