Joseph Mount’s electro-pop act, Metronomy, have a lot going for them. The four piece have gained recognition for their winning blend of professionalism and pouty sass, and with their latest album they build on this formula to great effect. Summer 08 is an unashamedly enjoyable album. In interviews Mount has discussed how memories of partying in the late-naughties were prevalent in his writing on the record – it’s a nostalgic dip into the last decade. It cannot, however, be deemed a simple glorification of summer living in the 2000s. Satirical lyrics poke fun at “signet rings” and a fixation on earning money. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first time Mount has undertaken both recording and producing the entirety of a Metronomy record since his debut, Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe Me). Yes that really was the title. This sees him playing a Kevin Parker-esque role; he brings in no end of studio trickery and the departure from a full band tracking process is deftly executed.
It is immediately apparent that this is the expertly crafted pop music that fans have come to expect from Metronomy. Mount has once again proved that he can deliver hooks without comprising the complexity of a song. Tracks like “My House” and “Night Owl” could have passed as cuts from English Riveria, but are all the more refined. The arrangements feel vibrant but not excessively busy, with some sections and grooves indulgently drawn out. Despite the title, it feels as though the album draws more from the 80s than the naughties. His liberal use of drum machines, particularly on the tracks “Old Skool” and “16 Beat”, firmly ground them in the pop of that decade – pulsating synths, disk scratching, and hooks aplenty.
This is not to say that Summer 08 is conventional in its approach to pop music. Mount makes use of his fair share of unusual melodies and arrangements. The album’s opener, “Back Together,” features quirky chord progressions and a hilarious mock exchange between two parties in a pretentiously unfurling romance,“I’ll see if I can book us a table somewhere really really good”. The final cut, “Summer Jam,” is a primarily instrumental track that builds groove-upon-groove into a dense crescendo of break-beat indie-pop before fading back into a subdued resolution. This is an album that has a lot more to offer after the first listen.
The fact that Mount takes sole responsibility for the recording process does unfortunately result in the noticeable lack of Olugbenga Adelekan – the bass player’s adept fingered and slap playing were standouts on previous releases. This isn’t to say that the basslines on the album are in any way lacking, but in a number of cases Mount favours simpler picked licks, for example on “Miami Logic”. In fact the only other artist to feature is Swedish singer Robyn. Her addition to the 5th track, “Hang Me Out to Dry”, proves refreshing and is complimented well by lush synth lines.
This is clearly a record that Mount just really felt like making. He isn’t afraid to let a section sit. He’s not always in a hurry to introduce you to the apex of a song, but the confidence with which they’re constructed assures you that these moments will be forthcoming. Is Summer 08 the best we’ve heard from Metronomy? Probably not. Is it an engaging listen from start to finish? Definitely.