In hindsight, it’s funny to think that the political push for Canada’s conversion to metric measurement came from the far left. Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal Party fought hard to install the rigid uniformity of the decimalized system. A decade later, the ruling conservatives scaled back. Now our northern neighbor remains a wishy-washy land of pounds and grams.
So Toronto’s dull, calculated Metric at least deserves credit for such an appropriate name. Led by Emily Haines, an indie sex symbol up to far more interesting things in side projects like Broken Social Scene and the Soft Skeleton, the quartet suffers from a lack of conviction. Fantasies, the band’s fourth LP, aims for an unattainable kind of underground arena rock—meticulously arranged, market-researched pop tunes, only without the polish, sparkle and big-budget chemistry that make people ooh and aah to the radio. Basically, Haines and her boys have tried to cook a Twinkie at home. This sort of junk food for the ears should be processed.
At least, like a good pop-record academic, Metric parks its singles up front. Tracks one and two, “Help I’m Alive” and “Sick Muse,” throw some acoustic guitar and noticeable choruses over the album’s otherwise matte drone. Please, give us glitter or grit—any tip of the scale would have been welcome over beige centrism.
When the tempo (“Gold Guns Girls”) or the distortion (“Stadium Love”) cranks up, there’s a pulse, but even these dim highlights sound like Garbage demos. Metric would be wise to take a lesson from its rulers: In trying to be all things to everybody, you typically end up thrilling no one.
Metric plays Metro Sunday 14.