Originally released back in June, Synthetica, the fifth album by Metric gets a nice re-issue just in time for Christmas. Included in the deluxe package are the original album, and five additional tracks, mainly acoustic renditions of tracks on the original, but also including the absolutely fantastic cover of Tom Waits' "Strange Weather".
Synthetica opens with a hint of the direction Metric is taking with Artificial Nocturne, but it is the driving synth and guitar along with Emily Haine's Come As You Are-esque cadence on the second track (and first single), "Youth Without Youth", where you really get a feel for what type of musical journey you'll be going on for the next 45 minutes or so. Following up is probably one of the strongest songs on the album, "Faster the Collapse." Synthetica meanders for a bit (possibly by design) in the middle of the album, until switching gears to the energetic and title track. Where one would expect the following three tracks to follow suit and race to the end, you're presented with "Clone", possibly the most polarizing track in the album. Starting slow and wistfully, without changing pace throughout the song, it somehow feels perfect following up probably the most energetic song on the album, while setting you up for the end of the album which despite a curiously underutilized guest appearance by Lou Reed, ends on a similar note as the beginning, bringing you full circle.
The additional tracks included in the deluxe edition are hit and miss. The curious choice to keep the Autotuned chorus on the hook of "Youth Without Youth" takes away from the organic feeling of this rendition, though Haine's melancholy vocals on "Strange Weather" are haunting and easily the best of the additional tracks.
It's clear by the end of the second song that Synthetica is meant to be listened to in its entirety, evoking an introspective mood throughout. Offering a similar, yet more mature sound than their last album Fantasies. It's the overall feeling of how anything with synths and distortion can still tie in with Haine's voice to feel somehow organic is what makes Synthetica a strong overall listen.—Bryant Franks
Worth a Listen: "Speed the Collapse, Clone"