I've been eagerly awaiting this album since it was announced, so I was very pleased when my copy arrived a couple of days earlier than the release date and I've had time to give it a few listens. After the rather not-so-radio-friendly lead single 'Youth Without Youth', I was interested to see where the band had gone with their fifth album. It's certainly quite different, but at the same time, recognisably Metric.
The other track revealed before the album's release, 'Speed The Collapse', is much more of a traditional Metric track than 'Youth Without Youth' was, in fact it would have sat well with the tracks from previous album 'Fantasies' quite nicely. However, many of the other songs are an evolution of the sound the band were developing on 'Fantasies'. There are more synthesizers this time around which is to be expected given the title and themes of the album. Rather than buzzing leads like those found in older tracks like 'Dead Disco' and 'Gimme Sympathy' they tend to be euphoric pads which work really well with the rhythm guitar section laid under them.
My personal favourite track is the title track 'Synthetica', a pacey rock tune that is a good candinate to be a single. I love how the synthesizers come in just as Emily Haines sings 'Hey, I'm not synthetica' in the chorus, I felt it was a nice touch. I also love the ballad-type track that comes directly after it, 'Clone', with twinkly guitar and xylophone in the background. Lou Reed collaboration 'The Wanderlust' is another good track, although Lou Reed himself sounds strangely out of place, though I can't put my finger on why.
My favourite vocal performances from Emily are on the tracks 'Breathing Underwater' and 'Lost Kitten', the latter of which has quickly become a live favourite from what I've heard.
The album does have one or two minor flaws in my opinion, but they're nothing that would detract from my five-star rating. I feel the opening track 'Artificial Nocturne' could have done with being a heavier when the song kicks in but it's something I've quickly gotten used to and it doesn't really bother me anymore. Like I mentioned earler Lou Reed's vocals do sound a bit odd contrasting with Emily's but I'm fairly sure I'll get used to that too as it's such a good song anyway.
In the end, I'm definitely in love with this new album and the new direction the band have gone in. They obviously weren't afraid to mix things up a bit and it shows in this great album.