If this record were a car, it would be sitting on a snowy embankment, trying to get its engine to turn over. The same way that one lays their head on the steering wheel and pleads with the pistons to begin their cyclical journeys, Live It Out, contains a promise, which is hinted at but isn’t ever fully delivered upon.
This parallel extremism has worked for others, but never really pans out for Metric.
The record, which does not seem to get started until its fifth track, “Poster of a Girl”, can largely blame the focus upon dissonant guitar tracks for its inability to connect with its audience. At least on first listen. More on that later. The guitar work of Jimmy Shaw seems disjointed on the majority of the record, and comes across as over reaching. This could be due to the fact that he produced the record as well, and wasn’t able to exercise enough self control. On “Glass Ceiling”, the guitar positions itself as a total opposite to the hushed vocals of Emily Haines. This parallel extremism has worked for others, but never really pans out for Metric. The best tracks on this record are the keyboard driven ones, as they are by far the most accessible, the most well crafted. The lesson that this disc teaches us is that the more of Emily Haines you put into a song, the better it will be.
Not to say that this is a bad record. Far from it. In fact, though this disc feels somehow wrong at first listen, upon a few spins many tracks begin to grow on your ears. The record is good by all accounts, so don’t label me a Former Metric Fan just yet. The problem is just that though, I know how great this band is (was?), I know what they are capable of. On 2003’s Old World Underground, Where are you Now? Metric displays a confident intelligence, woven in melodies that feel right in every measure, yet retain a complexity that allows them to transcend their genre. That charm is lost on most tracks here. The songs on Live it Out, that do display that ability, that roaring engine, pique interest, but are not enough to compensate for the others. This disc might have done better as a six or seven song EP instead of stretching them into a full length.
To be fair, Metric has been through a lot since their debut was released, standing on the precipice of breaking up more than once. Unfortunately, that fragmented mindset comes across sonically.
Haines’ voice is as well calculated as always, becoming the saving grace of the entire record.
A point of interest are Haines’ lyrics, which on Old World are both sensual and cerebral at once. On Live it Out this surfaces in a few select songs, but for the most part, feels forced. Songs that should be subtly sexual end up with lyrics like “Satisfy myself/ avoid beginners”. Haines’ voice is as well calculated as always, becoming the saving grace of the entire record. It is worth ignoring the negatives that this disc carries like torn luggage for a ringside seat to her screamingly smooth vocals. On other tracks the lyrics pop as a hybrid of poignant social consciousness and inward monologue. The chorus of the first single, “Monster Hospital” seems to recall the call to arms that was written all over Old World, as she belts “I fought the war, I fought the war, But the war won, Stop for the love of god…”.
The bass and drum groove of Josh Winstead and Joules Scott-Key provides a great backdrop as always, but a solid dance beat isn’t enough to land this disc at the top of the Metric discography. Perhaps as the months go on, and the CD becomes worn and played through winter rains, it will continue to grow on listeners. For now, lets write it off to the sophomore curse.
_You’re working for the police and the private, the pilots and the pirates,
Fingerprinted waiting for the train,
The doctor, the writer, the hairdresser,
Felt up and fingerprinted waiting for the train_