Cult electro-rockers Metronomy have re-released their iconic and career-changing album The English Riveria in time for its tenth anniversary, this time adorned with six previously unreleased bonus tracks. Amber Frost delves beneath French Organs’ glossy, reverbed make-over and the whirling synthesisers of Jazz Odyssey (Outtakes) to offer her thoughts.
English five-piece band are known for their indietronica sound and unique instrumental style, delivering fun and immersive songs that quite frankly, are addictive to listen to. The English Riviera is already an unashamedly enjoyable album and the bonus tracks we hear on this rerelease are no exception. Aquarius (Outtakes) being the first of the bonus material feels like it’s been taken straight out the 1970s funk era with Olugbenga Adelekan providing a strong bass line that anchors the free-flowing keys of frontman Joseph Mount. This instrumental number showcases the talent that each of the band members has as a musician first and foremost, by omitting any vocals our focus as a listener is spread across what everyone is doing. The pulsating synthesizers, whirling sound effects and clean, crunchy percussion feel like a very honest insight into the band ‘jamming’ and perhaps just ‘messing around’, but the production on this short one-minute track elevate it enough to make it feel like it has a purpose on the album.
Picking Up for You (Outtakes) is a revised, reimagined version of the original song with the addition of lyrics and vocals. The electronics on the track have been amplified with the original bass and guitar melody having more swell due to the reverb effect that perfectly compliments Mount’s vocals. The slightly muffled bassline sounds as though it has been mixed with a small echo too, giving in a true ‘underwater’ sound that when combined with the shimmering keyboard, adds to the whole ambience of the album as a whole. Another instrumental number follows; French Organs (Outtakes) delivers a similar approach to that of Aquarius (Outtakes), which is that it serves the purpose of demonstrating each individual musician within the band. This track definitely leans more towards the electronica genre that Metronomy often explore; it’s simplistic in that it’s repetitive but something about the way each individual track is layered and the use of the Wurlitzer 200a, Juno 60 and Mini Moog synthesizers create an almost 8-bit soundtrack.
Friends was supposed to make the original record, but the band stated they were “never quite happy with how it ended up.”
French Organs definitely has an air of nostalgia and retro to it and thus this track feels like a nod towards Mount’s musical journey beginnings as he developed his interest in music by soundtracking animations. Friends (Outtakes) maintains the 8-bit soundtrack but with more groove in the drum kit and more synth-like vocals. Friends was supposed to be on the original record, but the band stated they were “never quite happy with how it ended up.” Of all the newly released material that accompanies this tenth-anniversary rerelease, Friends definitely feels as though it is already a part of the album.
The Ballad Of The 17 Year Old (Outtake) is another track that demonstrates just how talented each member of the band is; the rhythmically complex fills provided by Anna Prior are a testimony to her talents and demonstrate that whilst she joined the band after its original formation in 1999, she is fundamental to the bands sound. Rounding off the album is the final track Jazz Odyssey (Outtake) which gives an entirely different outlook on what Metronomy could have been as a band, they are without a doubt harmonically and rhythmically complex for what is perceived as ‘pop’ music. A personal favourite is how Adelekan trades in his usual electric bass for its acoustic counterpart. The double bass really emphasizes that genre of jazz by adding a certain level of warmth to the tonality of the piece, along with the gentle brushstrokes of the hi-hat.
Revisiting the album after ten years since its initial release has reinstated exactly why it was deserving of its Mercury Prize nomination. In an interview with Lisa Wright of DIY, Mount states “people make brilliant music when they’re younger because there’s this weird, amazing combination of competitiveness and naivety.” Each track from the album certainly does retain an element of “weird” yet “amazing” due to the unique combination of electronic instruments performed in a virtuosic way. Whilst The English Riviera turned out to be Metronomy’s biggest album so far, their whole discography doesn’t disappoint and it would be easy to say that Metronomy are perhaps one of the most understated bands in the music industry.
Written by: Amber Frost
Edited by: Olivia Stock