July 12, 2022 Metric – Formentera (Album Review)
It’s not Ibiza, but Formentera certainly has an element of the sunshine-filled succexy. At least at face value. However, the new album by JUNO Award-winning Metric is a (false) dichotomy: lush with feel-good sounds meant to make your body move, and just as thick with reflective lyrics meant to work your mind. The collection, the Canadian rockers’ eighth, arrived on July 8, 2022, thanks to the group’s own Metric Music International distributed by BMG Rights Management.
Formed in 1998, the electronic-leaning Metric stepped into many ears via that love-to-hate, hate-to-love social media pioneer, MySpace, much in thanks to their debut album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, and songs such as “Succexy,” “Combat Baby,” and “Dead Disco.” Masters at creating quirky earworms that were quick to burrow inside listeners’ souls, they were destined to explore a myriad of genres with the likes of 2007’s Grow Up and Blow Away, 2015’s Pagans in Vegas, and 2018’s Art of Doubt.
Four years after their last effort, the quartet—Vocalist/Keyboardist Emily Haines, Guitarist James Shaw, Bassist Joshua Winstead, and Drummer Joules Scott-Key—is delivering Formentera into a very different world. Produced by Shaw, Gus Van Go (Priestess, The Stills), and Liam O’Neil (Kings of Leon, Simple Plan), the 9-song release surfs the struggle of the past few years, providing listeners with a record that proudly embraces the darkness as well as the light.
This chasm between the music and its accompanying lyrical concepts is rarely wider than on “Doomscroller,” the album’s bold, 10-and-a-half-minute opener. A song that makes an art form of reincarnation, it fearlessly flips from EBM to piano ballad, erratically writhing bodies covered to ethereal flight. Leaving few genres unturned, “Doomscroller” provides an, at times, stark introduction to a record that intends to tell a cohesive story of self-searching and redemption.
With catastrophe weighing heavy, “All Comes Crashing” flaunts its ironically catchy look at fighting for who or what you love, while the edgy rocker “What Feels Like Eternity” explores the lowest point of the pandemic. When those days turned into weeks and we all questioned whether lockdown would ever end, and if being alone together would become the new norm. It is the depiction of ebbing hope, a darkness that ignites the light of the escapist fantasy “Formentera.” Beginning with attention-grabbing cinematic orchestration, the titular track lets go of control, welcoming an acceptance that offers its own form of freedom among the murmuring tides.
The carefully arranged disc allows “Enemies of the Ocean” to flow beautifully from its predecessor, as the joyous reclamation of self leads to self-reflection, epiphany, and the refusals of “I Will Never Settle.” It’s an uptick in positive feels that allows the band to shine on glittery dancer “False Dichotomy” before they do their best Breakfast Club impression, emanating a delicious aroma of ‘80s New Wave on “Oh Please.” And it ultimately all comes full circle with the perfect complement to the album’s opener, the glowing rays of “Paths in the Sky.”
If there must be a crux to an album, then surely Formentera’s double-edged sword is its opening track, “Doomscroller”: arriving with such a powerful presence, it sets a precedent that is nearly impossible to overcome. Thankfully, Metric seems to realize that there’s no need to concoct a collection of gloomy sequels, instead they focus on delivering a narrative arc that allows listeners to purge the quagmire of emotions born of the past few years. In the sands of Formentera, we discover ourselves once again, perhaps wiser, hopefully, happier, even if the only sun-filled beaches in the week ahead are those found in daydreams. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Metric’s latest 4.5 out of 5 stars.