Metric, however, are a different animal. The Canadian quartet have always loved their synths. The majority of Metric's work uses guitar as a layer along with strong new wave synths. Guitarist James Shaw and bassist Joshua Winstead even double up as synth players. Their latest offering, Pagans in Vegas, however, shows the band go almost completely electro.
The album starts on fairly familiar ground with Lie Lie Lie with lead singer, Emily Haines spitting dark lyrics over huge electric drums. It's after this that Pagans starts to take some real risks.
Fortunes is dark electronica ditty with a lush, sweeping chorus. What truly makes it a Pagans In Vegas track is its very weird, discordant synth line. The disparity between the synth lead and the melodically rich chorus is interesting if not a little jarring.
Many electronic music subgenres are explored on Pagans. For example, Celebrate starts like a 90's trance song, Other Side like a new-romantic swoon and For Kicks has a noticeably europop chorus. While the album is very throwback, their songwriting along with fantastic track layering completely transcends each genre they take on.
One of the most interesting tracks on the album is Cascades, an understated yet emphatically produced dance beat. The song sounds as if it had been lifted out of a SEGA Genesis game set in 1980's Miami. Haines' vocals are put through a vocoder making them almost incomprehensible while played over atonal sweeps and a funky synth bass line. It isn't until after a couple of plays that the song reveals itself as a brooding yet incredibly sweet song, and arguably the best track on the album.
The video-game influence appears throughout the album, but it's most noticeable on closing two-parter The Face. The first 30 seconds of Part II sounds as though it's waiting for someone to press start. The band builds on the 8-bit base with huge pads and vocoders to create an anthemic dance song, bizarrely interrupted with ringing phones and a rendition of Bach's Bouree in E Minor. Unfortunately, unlike Cascades and Celebrate, the second part of the track puts style over song-writing. Although Part II isn't as fun or engaging as it's predecessor, the drawn out pads are effective as a low key, introspective closer.
Pagans In Vegas contains some of Metric's catchiest pop songs, and yet the vast majority of its tracklist would sound lost on any of their earlier albums. It's the Canadian quartet's most ambitious outing yet, and it proves that even when Metric stray further from the tried and tested, they can still write fantastic pop songs.