Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Metric, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

Released in 2003, “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?” is Metric’s first full length album.  The band formed around Emily Haines (vocals, keyboards) and James Shaw metric(vocals, guitars) and includes Josh Winstead (bass) and Joules Scott-Key (drums).  They are based in Toronto and, as seems to be typical of Toronto bands, the members of Metric make frequent appearances in performance and on the albums of other Toronto groups like Broken Social Scene and Stars. 

Shaw spent three years at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and he brings a precision and refinement to Metric’s tunes.  In fact, they chose the name “Metric” to capture the exacting nature of Shaw’s musical compositions.  All this talk of precision makes Metric out to be a cold, dry and distant band but that’s not how they sound.  Their music is a refreshing combination of new wave angularity with synth-pop effervescence.  And hooks.  These guys know hooks.  At first Metric comes on like some kind of new wave dance band that has something just a bit off kilter that you can’t quite put your finger on but you don’t really care because the tunes sound good and you’ve got that head bop thing going.  Repeated listens start to reveal how they work their magic through precision and control.  The songs are very carefully structured with precise and sneaky metre changes, exquisite layering and timing of voice and instrument appearances and disappearances and very finely tuned harmonies.  Adding to the effect are Haines’ very clearly and sharply articulated vocals.  For example, on “Hustle Rose” the “p” sound at the end of the line “Now that your wallet is all lit up” becomes a percussive element of the tune.  She could give radio announcers and film & TV actors lessons in diction. 

It’s rare to hear music that is both as carefully constructed and as much fun as Metric’s.  It’s very hard to do and Metric make it look easy.  It’s only after their infectious music has sunk it’s hooks in you that you realize you’re in the hands of some master musicians.

Music from this CD can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 014 – The Girls in the Band


10/05/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

1 Comment »

  1. […] Tuned In To Music 014 – -The Girls in the Band brought me back into contact with Metric’s Old World Underground, Where Are You Now.  I enjoyed listening to the album so much I sought out their follow-up CD “Live It […]

    Pingback by Review: Metric, Live It Out « Tuned In To Music | 10/29/2007 | Reply

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