“I’m just as fucked up as they say,” sings Emily Haines, her voice pristine, explosive without an immediate amp of volume. It takes two minutes for drummer Scott-Key to cue in and Shaw to introduce his infectious guitar lead. It’s worth the wait. This first track prepares fans for what Metric seems to do best – not giving it up too soon. The album is nearly forty-five minutes long. The best forty-five minute drive fans will take since Fantasies.
It’s hard to separate “Youth Without Youth,” the album’s second track, from its bizarre and slightly haunting music video, which premiered on ilovemetric.com on June 12. Albino bunny rabbits, elderly women with shotguns, and stacks of large birthday cakes may not be the initial images elicited when listening to the track. Rather, the “Youth Without Youth” anticipates what tracks such as “Dreams So Real” and “Speed the Collapse” attempt musically.
James Shaw’s rung out, digital-delayed guitar leads hearken back to the album’s opener, yet the minor, murder-mysterious chord progression is a new twist in Synthetica. “Speed the Collapse” has an anthemic chorus and chorus outro that is unmatched by almost any other Metric song (although Fantasies was the album of anthems). Metric has mastered this subtle layer-upon-layer effect where piano may slowly surface as a major lead while Haines develops three simultaneous vocal hooks—no big deal, right?
A few tracks have their generic moments. “Breathing Underwater” may, at first, seem excessively U2 or Grey’s Anatomy opening-death-bed-scene. Yet Haines’ voice is undeniable. Her control over melodic structure combined with Scott-Key’s sheer drum talent transforms the musical quality of the track into something that surpasses the complexity of a medical soap drama.