Semi-New Music: Metric – “Help, I’m Alive”

I received a text message from my friend Mike in LA the other night.  It was short, sweet, and to the point:

My new favorite song: “Help, I’m Alive” by Metric.

I have a slightly rocky history with Metric.  I have frequently been told that they are the next big thing, and it was this sentiment that caused me to finally check them out right after the release of 2005’s Live It Out.  It was an okay album, but the overwhelming feeling I got from Live It Out was that it was very mechanical.  The cold precision of the music, the weird tinny production, and something in lead singer Emily Haines’s voice (despite the fact that I love her work with Broken Social Scene) gave me the inescapable impression of a bunch of 80’s era robots hopelessly stuck on the New Wave setting.   In all, despite a couple of bright moments here and there, I was largely unimpressed, and I had no motivation to check out any of their earlier albums or to anticipate any future releases.

So then comes this text message.  I generally but not always agree with Mike’s taste in music, so unless his text message was dripping with sarcasm not easily conveyed through the written word, I believe this was a pretty glowing review.  Also, I’m never one to completely count a band out, even after a pretty decisive first impression, so I figured I would give them a second chance and Youtube “Help, I’m Alive.”

After some predictably robotic percussion leading things off, Haines’s echo-effect voice breaks in along with some low synths in the background.  The somewhat familiar New Wave vibe is still there, but there’s a new life in Haines’s voice and **gasp** something resembling emotion!  I was a bit concerned after the swelling synths come in at about 0:35, but the second time around,  the synths break completely and make way for some crunchy guitar chords, and Haines goes up an octave or so to create an instantly hooky chorus.  Less than halfway through the song, I notice my foot tapping, and I realize that this is by far the best Metric song I’ve ever heard, and I think I may be inspired to check out their latest record, Fantasies.

Thanks for the text, Mike!

Metric – “Help, I’m Alive”

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