Review: Metric rocks out existentially in ‘Formentera’

“Formentera” Metric (Metric Music International)

Even Canadian rock stars are looking introspectively – and existentially – at their role and the meaning of it all in today’s seemingly crumbling world.

But hey, a pretty rockin’ album came out of it.

Metric’s “Formentera” throws listeners into the deep end with “Doomscroller,” which starts off feeling like a warehouse rave or fever dream or maybe both. What sounds like a siren blaring in the background accompanies lyrics that capture the spiraling, sinking feeling of getting sucked into a bad news scrolling frenzy. The techno synth rises and falls like a doom(sc)roller coaster, only to dissipate where you expect the beat drop to be.

There’s a shift a little over halfway through the 10-minute song, and the dark, pulsing beats are replaced with hopeful, poignant piano chords. By the end of the song, you’ve forgotten all about the fever rave that was the beginning of the song – you’re just swaying as frontwoman Emily Haines “oooh”s.

The accompanying music video features blue-hued shots of the band members juxtaposed with overlapping, peaceful outdoor scenes. The blue lighting is also used in the video for “All Comes Crashing,” where a long-lashed Haines sings a love letter, but to whom?

In the album’s namesake “Formentera,” Haines contemplates fame and shame, imagining walking away from it all on a beach of the picturesque Spanish island.

And “I Will Never Settle” is a bold response: “Caught a glimpse of a normal life/Terrified by the sight.” The lyrics flow confidently and doubtlessly as Haines repeats, “We will never settle, it would crush our souls.”

Throughout the album, there’s questioning and existentialism, and it’s an undoubted product of the past couple of pandemic years, but in classic Metric fashion, listeners can’t help but rock out anyway.

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