Show Review: Metronomy @ Paradise Rock Club 5.17.14
by David McDevitt (International Affairs/Economics), published June 3rd 2014
There was something fascinating about seeing Metronomy light up the Paradise Rock Club like it was an 80s roller disco hub, showing up on stage in matching white tuxedo jackets and looking like a British spoof of the fictional frat house band Otis Day and the Knights.
Metronomy came out of the the British neo-new wave scene, one built around bands sharing a similar ultra-polished sound made up of squeaky synth tracks and a drum machine. As a musical style, it lacks staying power, which is why some of the most memorable tracks from the original new wave scene in the 80s are one-hit wonders. That same lack of staying power plagued Metronomy early in their career, perhaps indigenous to their catchy but not overly embraceable Europop sound.
On their fourth album Love Letters, Metronomy breaks the repetition of their previous LPs by allowing the polish to fall away, making room for more eccentric ideas to take root. The addition of influences such as David Bowie and replacing the mellow beats of their third LP English Riviera with a bit more drive similar to that of indie pop headliners like Phoenix, all while sticking to their electro Britpop roots, created a more energetic stage presence for Metronomy.
There were moments in their set that highlighted this. On two occasions the band seemed to disperse; drummer Anna Prior took a seat behind one of the three synthesizers and bassist Olugbenga Adelekan (the strongest and most enjoyable personality on stage, whose enthusiasm was infectious) backed away from his spotlight and put down his bass. A low key and very inactive song followed both scatters, creating an awkward lull in their set that contrasted the energy of the songs from Love Letters. Thankfully of each of these low points was followed by a kick upward to reignite the performance.
Their strength as a band was never in their creativity. Metronomy have never been an extremely innovative act, and none of their music is incredibly unique. In fact, most of the pieces that comprised their sound have been around for ages, and the band’s strength lay instead in execution. As performers the members of Metronomy excelled. When frontman Joseph Mount had to rework his backing band in 2009, he made sure to choose a group that had all been seasoned performers before coming to Metronomy, an approach that rewarded at the band’s Paradise Rock Club performance. Their stage presence was similar to that of a supergroup, all powerful personalities taking rotations on vocals, synthesizers, and in the focus of the spotlight. Metronomy looked performed like veterans, in stark contrast to the awkward and naive performance of their opening act, Cloud Control, supporting their debut album.
If seeing Metronomy was ever a desire, now would be the time to do it. expanded musical style and growing experience as performers created a show that was very energetic, glamorous, and charming all while being carefully engineered into a fully satisfying display of lights and sound.