Metronomy - Summer 08 (Because Music)

Metronomy – Summer 08 (Because Music)

Metronomy’s fifth album, Summer 08 appears two years after 2014’s extremely disappointing Love Letters.  Metronomy were on the verge of breaking through commercially after the critical success of arguably their best record, 2011’s charming The English Riviera.  Apart from the catchy Motown-inspired pop of the title track, Love Letters had too many bland and unmemorable songs that left little impression.  Things improve slightly with Summer 08, as there are times when they sound inspired again.

First single ‘Old Skool’ mixes their early electronic direction with the awkward disco of I Created Disco-era Calvin Harris.  Joseph Mount recorded most of the album himself, which adds to the lo-fi quality.  The dark synths and scratching that appear in the outro to ‘Old Skool’ are one of the musical highlights of Summer 08.  ‘Miami Logic’ is full of compelling new wave guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on David Bowie’s LodgerSummer 08’s best song comes with ‘Hang Me Out to Dry,’ a duet with the mighty Robyn.  Over a bouncing bassline and some lush synths, Robyn coos “do whatever you feel like, you’re behind the wheel, drive”, which creates a comforting feeling of nostalgia. It’s up there with ‘Trouble’ and ‘The Look’ as one of the finest and most well-rounded songs Metronomy have released.

Sadly, the rest of Summer 08 lets the record down really badly, especially the second half.  ‘Mick Slow’ is dense and atmospheric but it goes nowhere, despite some excellent fret bass that would fit on Roxy Music’s Avalon or Japan’s Tin Drum.  The songs fizzle out before hitting any kind of peak; interesting bass-lines are their only redeeming quality.  Songs such as ‘Night Owl’ and ‘Love’s Not An Obstacle’ come across as pale imitations of Chromeo’s 80s funk aesthetic.  The hazy ‘Summer Jam’ sounds like an attempt to recreate Sebastien Tellier’s easy listening meets space disco triumph, Sexuality, but ultimately it’s an unfinished sketch.

If, like me, you enjoyed the warmth of the The English Riviera, you’re likely to be disappointed with Summer 08.  It has more in common musically with the nervous energy of their second record, Nights Out.  Metronomy may have missed their moment to break through, but they seem happy to find their place as a cult band (much like Hot Chip, who adapt similar influences arguably more successfully and consistently).  Summer 08 is often a cold record that sounds rushed – the opposite of the effortless beauty of their best songs.  There’s a sense of detachment here that could stop the listener from really falling for this group.  It’s admirable that they’ve mostly avoided repeating themselves throughout their career, but it’s made them a frustrating band to follow when the results are this varied.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.