The Joup Friday Album – Seventh Edition – Metronomy ‘The English Riviera’


As I said in my previous entry in this series, I feel a responsibility to my lineage to wax sycophantically about some of the underrated or overlooked gems my fellow countrymen have proffered for your aural delectation over the decades. Many a minstrel from this spinach green and soggy land, this sceptic isle, has fallen on deaf American ears over the years, and I for one can sympathise.

Growing up in the Technicolor mulch of American pop culture I was ashamed of my nation, and the USA was my everything, on the odd occasion I’d meet an American in the flesh, I’d try my utmost to impress on them how we weren’t all tea drinking & crumpet eating, pallid skinned, sexually repressed boarding school Tories – with a similar fervour to the way alot of the Germans I’ve met have apologised for the Second World War, but somewhat more conceited and alot less understandable. It might surprise or perhaps even dismay you to hear that as a grown man in many ways I still value my country’s culture second to America’s, I can’t describe the leaden heaviness of heart with which I approach watching a British film over an American one, and my musical tastes are 98% Made in the USA.

Much has been done to improve our cultural currency overseas, in my mind at least, or perhaps the blessed internet has opened my eyes to how much of our artistic output I would have considered prohibitively English actually translates across the Atlantic. There hasn’t been an awful lot to thrill me about contemporary British music in recent years, especially the 80s influenced, Electro inflected sort, so I was as shocked as anyone who knows me when I fell in love with Metronomy.

‘The English Riviera’ was released in 2011 to fairly widespread domestic acclaim, but as far asI know didn’t cause a great many ripples stateside. Surfing in on the twin violins and scene-setting field recordings of an eponymous 0.37 second opener comes first track proper ‘We Broke Free’, which is reminiscent of a darker-tinged incarnation of Air, mostly forgoing the electronica in favour of a straightforward four-piece rock band, but so atmospherically late ’70s you feel a synth onslaught can’t be far away. These instincts are proven momentarily correct when awkwardly pawed keyboards herald the entrance of ‘Everything Goes My Way’ only to be playfully pushed aside to give way to a jangly guitar-driven, finger-twisting ringlet of cutesy Girl-Pop, resplendent with multilayered harmonies to die-for supplied by Roxanne Clifford of Veronica Falls, whose deadpan delivery see-saws between blissfully optimistic & worryingly naïve. Centrepiece ‘She Wants’, driven by a snaking, malevolent bassline could segue effortlessly into ‘Love Is The Drug’ by Roxy Music, while ‘Trouble’ is the sort of baroque pop you can imagine Bowie jettisoning in favour of ‘Drive-In Saturday’.

It’s an unrelenting succession of excellently written, perfectly put together pop songs, but Metronomy are beautifully askew; a retro assembly of off kilter familiarity, an almost taunting normalcy surreptitiously infused with this insipid dread, a gagged anxiety, as definitely present yet intangible as that bastard, baseless sense of regret married to hangovers.

The band release their fourth full length this Monday, the excellent but more minimalist, Lo-Fi, songcraft-centric ‘Love Letters’.

For next week, the Magic 8 Ball tagged Tommy.











Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.

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