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Rockin' Our Turntable: Metric

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 1, 2009 4:20PM

2009_03_Metric_Fantasies.jpg Metric has long run in the same circles as the Brooklyn dance rock bands that have choked mp3 blogs in recent years. They set themselves apart by 1) ditching NYC for Toronto ASAP and 2) always injecting just enough artsy turns into their toe-tappers to keep them interesting and above the fray. While this set them above the competition, their hesitation at just embracing the big hook kept the band from moving beyond an intellectual joy to own the dancefloor.

With their newest disc, Fantasies, Metric has finally perfected the formula and concocted a heady mix of smart songs destined for a jillion remixes that will never be better than the originals. The template is solidly set with album opener "Help I'm Alive." It's verses seethe with tension that lead into a rising waterfall of cymbal crescendos before the guitars chug out jubilant power chords underneath singer Emily Haines' winsome winning vocals. Haines has always provided the overriding pop element on the band's previous recordings but here she is joined by bandmates Joules Scott-Key, James Shaw, and Josh Winstead to form a fearless phalanx unafraid to allow an unprecedented club mentality creep into their work.

The group's overall sound remains the same, but where they used to feel the need to continuously pull back on the tempos to create the more "serious" songs, they've learned how to keep the beat driving while lathering it with minor chords and unlikely chordal vocal melodies to keep things from falling into predictable patterns. And when they do slow it down, as on the sepulchral "Twilight Galaxy" it serves as a dreamy breather breather instead of a speed bump; it reminds us of what's at the core of the band's music just long enough to remind us to engage in the party with both head and hips. What you end up with is one of the smartest rock records fit for two turntables to come out so far this year.

Fantasies comes out April 14, but you can get the digital version of the album now.

Metric plays Metro, 3730 N Clark, June 14, 7:30 p.m., $20, all ages. Tickets go on sale this Saturday at noon.