Album Review: Metric – Pagans In Vegas

Pagans In Vegas

peagansinvegascoverReleased September 18th 2015

Words: Jimmy Gallagher

This is the first of two records compiled from material provided by both singer Emily Haines and guitarist/synths James Shaw. Metric believe there to be enough output from their respective writing sessions to be able to achieve this aim successfully without compromising the end product. In truth, based on Pagans In Vegas the objective seems far fetched.

Pagans In Vegas does not reach the standards that previous Metric albums have attained so the likelihood is the second album proposed for some time next year, may be similarly unaffecting.

That is not to say there are not moments to savor here. Metric have been, and still surely are a decent band. 2006’s Live It Out was a compact uppercut of refreshing agility proving that the zing and vibrancy of their live set could be translated to record. Since then Fantasies further consolidated their qualities and was laced with sassy, snappy singles. The opening track of Pagans In Vegas Lie Lie Lie is in the same mold as Help, I’m Alive from Fantasies. Just not quite as fizzing.

Emily Haines’ voice is so well suited to this simple synthesized pop-rock. She juxtaposes between angelic, ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ high notes to a more lazy and somewhat sinister and sexy drawl. The over extended emphasis on the last syllables of the chorus works particularly well. The track sensibly stays short and is focused on the pop elements.

The Canadian four piece have been making music together and winning awards since Joshua Winstead and Joules Scott-Key joined the band (Named ‘Mainstream’ at the time) in 2001. So it is no surprise that they know a thing or two about how to compose a good pop song and with The Shade and Celebrate they have done just that.

The former is something of a grower although it is rather stop and start and drowned in synthesizers and sci-fi effects. Despite this, the song gets into you via some orifice, probably the ear, as it worms its way inside for the day. Celebrate is fundamentally stronger but does feel more mid 90’s dance anthem than a 2015 Metric track. Frustratingly, all of the parts are in place for Pagans In Vegas to take off but it stays pretty much stationary.

Cascades is the best track on the album, Shaw’s synths are intelligently employed with a rising sample enhancing the building krautrock chords. Haines vocoded voice fits smartly in with the robotic mechanism of the song which ultimately makes it sound more alive and authentic than anything else in Pagans.

The following track – For Kicks, will divide the Metric fanbase. It begins in promising fashion but the tempo suddenly veers off course for the chorus to descend into an Erasure mix featuring Jimmy Somerville and the Communards. One assumes that is not the direction Metric were hoping to navigate.

Throughout Pagans In Vegas, the good is followed too closely by the confusing. Too Bad, Too Sad is also grounded in nostalgia as The Eurythmics battle with CSS. It is up to the listener however, which influential part deflects from the good. As a matter of fact Pagans In Vegas starts off well and it does improve as a whole after a few listens but it does leave you pondering whether Metric have just made do with what they’ve got. It is mostly music for the matriarch but music that flatters to deceive.

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