When it soars, it reaches the stars.
Andrzej Lukowski 2009
To hoist Metronomy from the obscure laptop larks of bedroom-wrought debut Pip Paine (Pay the £5,000 You Owe) to the full-blooded fun machine of its present live incarnation, founder Joseph Mount had to do three things. One: recruit some bandmates to breathe life and energy into his songs. Two: run out to the Pound Store and snapped up some big, fun flashing lights that he, Oscar Cash and Gabriel Stebbing could wear around their necks at gigs. And three, write some pop music.
Go to a Metronomy gig and you get all that. Investigate second album Nights Out and you’ll find a transitional but very cohesive set, one that bridges the gap between dazzling pop and scuffling bedroom electronics with surprising grace. It’s a record that builds cautiously, from the insect hummings of Nights Out Intro, up up up through the wonky electro tickler The End of You Too, edging into the deadpan, nearly-sing-along of Radio Ladio and then WHAM: two of the best pop songs of the year, if not the decade.
The record’s most endearingly silly moment, My Heart Rate Rapid creeps up on a taut carpet of pings, cocks its head, then bursts into a helium delirium of incomprehensible falsetto ebullience, fizzing into the ether like drunken fireworks. A few octaves are dropped for the equally wonderful Heartbreaker, a minimal slink based around a curiously compelling sample of a creaky door and Mount’s half spoken, “I heard she broke your heart again / Well that girl’s a heartbreaker”. It’s tiny, but steely and compact, distilling the sentiment of nigh-on all pop music into two lines and refusing to sound smug about it.
Having scaled such heights, Nights Out immediately begins to descend: the likes of Side 2, On the Motorway and Back on the Motorway are gently intricate semi-instrumentals that glide forward, small but hypnotic, redolent of the after-dark drive depicted on the album’s cover. Indeed, taken as a whole the record is a surprisingly subdued affair.
With the band’s giddy live reputation growing by the gig, Nights Out is way more introverted than you’d have perhaps expected, but it hangs together nicely, and when it soars, it reaches the stars.