I don't know many people that send postcards anymore, but you get the sense that Joe Mount would write a bloody good one. If The English Riviera was a lovingly weaved ode to a vibrant utopia, Love Letters, its predecessor and Metronomy's fourth full-length offering, is a return to the same shores, but under much darker skies. Fractured relationships, murky, lovelorn lusting and long distance dumping have seemingly informed the band's most poignant LP, firmly dissolving their thirst for heady disco stompers and pound shop push lights adorning the chest.
Despite 'I'm Aquarius', our first taster, being unveiled, somewhat fittingly, via the constellations (granted, a SoundCloud link followed moments after), this is a record devoid of any requirement for PR bluster. It is apparent from its slow-burning opening that the playfulness that laced Pip Paine (Pay Back The £5000 You Owe) and even Nights Out has returned with gorgeous subtlety, 'The Upsetter' oozing a downbeat sparseness that sets a surprisingly melancholic tone.
If 'Love Letters' beds its roots within the surging harmonies of Abba and gloopy synths of the Pet Shop Boys, later tracks are a little less immediate; 'Boy Racers' is a strutting, pulsating instrumental that shimmers with Mount's affinity for dance music, albeit savaged by a meandering guitar, and particularly reminiscent of the band's Nights Out endeavors, 'Call Me' finds Mount in strained, despairing voice as he anxiously reassures an anonymous lover "We can get better" and 'Never Wanted' gradually unravels into a sumptuously whimsical closer.
Regardless of where he calls home these days (Paris boasts that accolade, in case you're curious), Joe Mount has lost none of his flair in splicing Metronomy with dollops of unassuming British charm. In a similar strain to The English Riviera, much of its intricate layers and airy production feel inherently embedded within these charmingly gloomy, wistful beaches. His youthful approach to the bedroom project, flinging an assortment of programmed blips and beats at the wall, with minimal vocals, and hoping it sticks, has been maturing for some time, but his knack for penning a killer melody has never been sharper, nor more apparent than on Love Letters. Rejuvenated by a meticulous instrumental section (Anna Prior, Gbenga Adelekan and devoted long-timer Oscar Cash), you get the sense that Mount has been gifted the freedom to ripen into one of our most assured and accomplished songwriters at his own pace.
A band once cherished by posing indie boys, Love Letters could be the record that catapults Metronomy into the big leagues. Chart domination, earnestly deserved for some time, may prove elusive yet again, but those foreboding main stages, at the biggest of festivals, surely beckon this summer.