Metric, Synthetica

Bill Murphy

By Bill Murphy

on 06.12.12 in Reviews
A sleek amalgam of electro, punk rock and pop

Electronic artists have been tackling a “ghost in the shell” theme — drawing human warmth out of synthesizers and sequencers — for decades now. But what happens when a live band sets out to rebuild the cybernetic shell around a ghost? On previous albums, the four members of Toronto’s Metric have only hinted at the full-bodied, buffed-chrome sound they achieve on Synthetica — a sleek amalgam of electro, punk rock and pop that orbits lead singer Emily Haines, who shimmers at its cool blue center like a diva hologram from the future. At first blush, her voice suggests a creepily programmed detachment, especially over the epic two-part opener “Artificial Nocturne” and the beat-less synth washes of “Dreams So Real.” Dig deeper though, and she reveals a daunting range of emotion, from menacing (“Youth Without Youth”) to playful (“Lost Kitten”) to heart-wrenching (“Clone”). As synthetic as she might sound, Haines can’t escape her warm-blooded humanity — and that’s the whole point.