Metronomy, review: a love letter to electro-pop

Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

Having just won enthusiastic reviews for their fourth album, Love Letters, this British band seem to sail onstage on clouds of glory - or maybe that’s just the effect of the set, made up of pink-tinged cumulus, reflecting their recent cover art. The cool precision of Metronomy’s electro-pop is matched tonight with an equally neatly constructed visual look: in cream slacks, co-ordinated shoes and burgundy blazers, the natty five-piece could be extras in a Wes Anderson movie. Three of them are perched atop neon-lit game show podiums. It’s all very droll.

There’s a hint of the lounge band in their retro keys and synth stylings too. “Love Letters”, title track of that fourth album, has an innocent old-fashioned charm with its sweet harmonies and tambourine-claps, and prompts some sprightly onstage dancing to the good solid drum beats from Anna Prior. The off-kilter pop of “I’m Aquarius”, by contrast, darkens it’s “shoop-doop-doop”s with claustrophobic, moody washes of sound. “Reservoir” features keyboards as sharply sour as razor-sliced lemons - although as four of the band bop their heads together on backing vocals like they’re enjoying an in-joke, there are issues with the act managing to fill this cavernous venue.

Sometimes Metronomy sound small and tinny, minutely constructed chamber-pop rather than big-crowd epic. The latest album seems intentionally narrower in focus, less accessible, which carries over into the live show in places. A couple of psychedelic instrumental numbers don’t quite translate as well as they might in a sweaty-pit venue, and while frontman Joseph Mount’s voice can be enjoyably arch, and reach a trilling falsetto, it can also sound underpowered here.

That’s not to say, however, that they don’t manage to scoop us up into their rose-tinted skies: this is, overall, a winning evening. And it’s the danceable familiar tracks from their last album, 2011’s The English Riviera, rather than the new stuff, that really ignites the crowd. This perhaps should come as no surprise: it was their sun-bleached break-out, Mercury nominated and all. Live, it certainly works to warm up our dancing feet.

“She Wants” pairs deep electronic growls with percussive clicks and slapping drums, while the bass is all strutting pastiche-funk. The tight, neat, shiny pop of “The Look” has just the right hint of ennui, synth lines carved like glass in their icy perfection. “Corrine” is delivered double-time, with a rocking-out swagger and a camp skip round the stage from the magnetic bassist Gbenga Adelekan. And an older favourite, the glitchy Hot Chip-esque “Radio Ladio” features squeaky synths and juicy, jaunty guitar that peals like a tangerine. 

They return for an encore by peeking out from behind those clouds, the cheeky scamps, this time dressed in navy blue. “The Most Immaculate Haircut” bows Metronomy out in, well, immaculate style. Mount politely tells us, before we leave, “Brixton, whether you're taking the night bus or the tube, we'd like to wish you a safe journey home”. So polite; so bright.