Cool take on nostalgia

Metronomy frontman Joseph Mount (above); and The Avalanches’ Tony Di Blasi, Robbie Chater and James Dela Cruz.
Metronomy frontman Joseph Mount (above); and The Avalanches’ Tony Di Blasi, Robbie Chater and James Dela Cruz. PHOTO: BECAUSE MUSIC

Trust the odd and oddly catchy English electronic pop band Metronomy to put a different spin on the age-old concept of nostalgia. Frontman Joseph Mount goes meta- textual, casting an ironic eye on the period before the breakthrough of his band's 2008 release, Nights Out.

It chronicles a disastrous weekend in his hometown of Totnes in Devon, where he worked out personal issues through general debauchery - drinks, partying and dancing.

The 33-year-old looks back at his 25-year-old self - a world-weary 30something glancing askance at his naive 20something, and seeing where it went wrong and, hey, not getting all worked up.

Back Together imagines a reunion with a former girlfriend and the casual baggage that comes with awkward distance. "Look at this picture/how well it's framed/I'll need your credit card and maiden name," he intones over angular riffs and disco drums that pound and skirt before you can get into the hook.

One thought pops into your brain: Has he forgotten her name?

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"And even when I'm low on time/I swear, I'll spend it with you boy," goes a falsetto rejoinder with Mount in the guise of the girl. Whether it's a promise or mere small talk, we are not certain.

In Old Skool, he sneers gloriously at the supercilious party culture in East London, nailing the posh West End kids with four lines: "Make some money/Make more money/With your friends/ Throw a party."

Featuring vintage scratch input by Beastie Boys veteran Mix Master Mike, the slithery funk gets you all lathered up and wondering when the big crash is going to come.

Not everything is wink-wink smarty-pants. Mick Slow courses through with palpable loss. "You and I together/Might it last forever?" he asks over lugubrious beats, before high-pitched interjections end the song with a question or an exclamation: "I know you."

In Love's Not An Obstacle, he struts like Michael Jackson, but emotes like a little boy who comes to realise he has to grow up one day.

"I spent 14 weeks with 14 lovers," he brags at first, pumped on bravado, over slinky bass, although you never once believe that statement.

"Everything's so complicated... Thought you'd be the one to save me," he confesses, longing for the girl who has become more radiant in the patina of memory.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Cool take on nostalgia'. Print Edition | Subscribe