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Popular synth-pop, dance rock band Metric abandons their signature heavy bass and drum for flirty electro-pop and vocals oozing sensuality and cynicism on the band’s debut album “Grow Up and Blow Away.”
The album was originally recorded by Rykodisc Records in 2001, but was not released until 2007 when Last Gang Records purchased the rights to the album. Metric had already released “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?” in 2003 and “Live It Out” in 2005 before “Grow Up” was available to the public. The band’s growth is obvious as they progress into the more bass, more drum mentality that rocks their music now.
Lead vocalist Emily Haines has an impressive musical pedigree. She has shown her versatility with her contributions to the baroque-pop band Broken Social Scene, Stars and her solo project, Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton.
For this album, Haines doesn’t miss a beat as she leaves the listener in rapture from track to track with her provocative and versatile vocals.
The album opens with a bang. The title track starts with heavy synthesizers and drums keep the beat moving as the chorus hits: “If this is the life, why does it feel so good to die today? Blue to gray, grow up and blow away.”
Haines’ charismatic vocals on this track set the tone for the entire album as the ever-catchy synthesizer is backed by smart, sexy and existential lyrics.
The album continues with “Hardwire,” a catchy and danceable tune with light instrumentation that emphasizes Haines arresting voice. The chorus “you are everything; you are nothing at all,” sticks with the listener as the album continues. The final minute of the song picks up the pace with heavier drums and guitar.
“Rock Me Now” follows with a steady electronic backbeat while Haines breaks away from standard vocals to spoken word, delivered with a steady stream-of-conscious feel. Supported by vocals from guitarist James Shaw, she tells the story of a girl who witnesses a murder in Las Vegas. “That night her mom said the two of them and the now dead guy were the only three people who really lived in Las Vegas, everybody else just arrived, ate their complimentary shrimp cocktail- and left.”
The feeling changes in the next track. “The Twist,” has a heavier down-tempo beat with a smooth R&B vibe as Haines laments “I used to know how to leave the boy behind/ without having to watch him go.”
“On the Sly” follows with a structure more standard for indie rock. The guitar and drums make a more deliberate appearance, and lyrics like: “I want them to hate me/ so you can love me on the sly” and “my old fame broke the twelve bar blues just to prove he could” are delivered with such coyness and subtlety that it makes the track irresistible.
The trend continues with “Soft Rock Star.” Haines keeps her voice at a high inflection as she dreamily recounts the cruelty of junior high: “bullies have always tried to buy the better girls, haven’t they? Choose the highest bidder that was my answer.” She sings encouragement “hang high, soft rock star.”
“Soft Rock Star” follows a similar lyrical and creative theme to Haines’ most popular track produced for Broken Social Scene, the hauntingly beautiful “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl.”
The listener follows Haines and Shaw along with the upbeat and poppy “Raw Sugar.” The song is less synthesized than other tracks. Light and airy instruments correlate with the lyrics: “Still I wear a red dress, paint my toes and twirl, take it back to old times when I was still a girl.”
The album takes a morose turn in the ending tracks. Leaving behind the domineering presence of a synthesizer, the album concludes with two songs that vibe a hopelessness that follows becoming a middle-aged woman.
“White Gold” is aptly named and the song matches with a cool jazz feel as Haines sings fatalistic lyrics alongside a piano. This song departs from the electronic nature of the rest of the album, and is similar to the work Haines would later go on to do with Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton.
The album ends with the shortest track on the album. “London Halflife” matches “White Gold” in tone. Lyrics like “middle-aged, you’re the low riser/ getting over myself today” are backed by light piano and guitar. The album concludes with the lyrics “house of cards, you fall hard.”
This album is evidence of Metric’s early talents. Haines’ clever world play and arresting vocals prove that the synthesizer can live through the 80s when played by an artist’s hand.
Contact CU Independent News Editor Sara Kassabian at Sara.firstname.lastname@example.org.