It has been three years since the release of Canadian electro-rock band, Metric’s last album, the well-received ‘Synthetica’, but the band, now in their 17th year, are back with their sixth album ‘Pagans in Vegas’.
The album sees the band take a step away from their rockier roots and moves towards a slower vibe, moving from the electro fused rock sounds that defined their early albums into an almost fully electronic sound with an edge of their rock and roll past. Emily Haines’ self-aware, and at times unapologetic vocals, take a bitter and sardonic look at the modern lives of the people around her. The album is at it’s strongest in the choruses, transitioning from slow minimalist verses into louder, fuller, more layered sounds that drive the catchy vocals to the forefront.
For much of the album the songs take on an overly digital sound, invoking thoughts of futuristic transistors, and video game backing tracks; a sound which is leaves a lot to be desired in places, most obviously in the song ‘For Kicks’ which could be mistaken for some strange 32-bit form of chiptune in it’s chorus. That’s not to say this new sound can’t work though, in ‘The Shade’, one of the album’s highlights, the band transition from an almost Gavinsky-esque beat into an uplifting chorus featuring digital licks. The album hits its peak in the song most like their previous work, ‘Too Bad, Too Sad’ bringing back the vibes of their past albums for a rocking chorus, while still keeping some of the more digital theme of the rest of the album.
This album is a step in a new direction for Metric, but maybe that direction isn’t the right one. While some songs can stand up with the best of the band’s back catalogue much of the album is forgettable at best.