Metronomy - The English Riviera
March 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.

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