Normally, if you sang, “Everybody just wanna fall in love,” in the chorus of your song, I would probably want to punch you in the face and then pee on you while you’re down. It’s just how I roll.
Clearly, you’re not Emily Haines. Because she’s sung those very words on “Sick Muse,” from Metric’s Fantasies album and… goddammit, I really like that song. I think I’ve mentioned a number of times recently that I don’t normally go for slick, poppy sounding stuff, as if it’s somehow the exception to whatever musical rule it is I follow (I’ll give you a hint – I don’t follow any musical rules). Metric is gonna make me look like a liar. Because Fantasies is a ridiculously poppy album with shimmery guitars and pounding drums and Haines’s cute-as-a-button voice (I believe she supplied the vocal to Broken Social Scene’s standout track “Anthems for a 17-Year-Old Girl”). So, given my addiction to the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record and now the aural candy that is Fantasies, what are my options? Am I a hypocrite of some kind? Probably not. Then what? Underneath all the scowl and snark and sn0bbery, am I just one big goddamn teddy bear?
The point is, when you say “pop music”, you might mean Chris Brown or Mariah Carey and I really do hate that shit. I guess what it boils down to is that when I say, “pop”, I start with The Beatles and go from there. The New Pornographers, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric; these are great pop bands, I don’t care how few people have heard of them. The fact is, just in time for me to roll down the window and crank up a great driving album, Metric has delivered Fantasies. Too bad some crooked fucker did a hit and run on my poor Corolla last weekend. Guess I’ll be waiting a few weeks for that windows-down, rocking-out thing. (Dont’ mourn, loyal Bollocks! reader<s> – my car is going to pull through this. And I got a witness, so the afore-mentioned crooked fucker is in for a legal smackdown as well).
Fantasies is a whole lot of fun, though it might be too sugary sweet for some people. When I said it’s ridiculously poppy, I was indulging in not one jot of hyperbole – listen to “Stadium Love” and tell me it’s not ridiculous. But I like it. I can’t help liking it. Just for fun, I tried to hate this album after I’d heard it once. Couldn’t be done. Granted, Fantasies isn’t going to change your life, but that’s not Metric’s goal. I’m pretty sure they just want to dance. That might not appeal to some brands of humorless indie dickweed out there, but for those of us who like joy, there’s lots to be had on Fantasies.
Haines has a good ear for 80s style pop tunes (like “Gold Guns Girls”) but isn’t afraid to be a bit subversive here and there (she sings about hearing you “fuck through the wall” on “Satellite Mind.” You should maybe quiet down a little) – her voice sounds cute, but the songs don’t hit you over the head with it. They’re not like, say, the novelty songish shit that you get out of Britney Spears and her herpes-addled ilk. Where your average teenage pop princess telegraphs the “Hey, look at me, I’m coy and sexy,” thing (Britney, and I hate myself for knowing this, has a single called “If You Seek Amy”. As with Wavves, I refuse – refuse! – to see what she did there), Haines makes more organic use of her voice, especially on the good-natured breakup (or is it?) song “Gimme Sympathy.” “Who would you rather be:/ The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?,” she asks her lover, and it’s an intriguing question. Would you rather stay together for forty years and know that your relationship was way better twenty years ago or stay together ten years and be regarded as legendary? I know which one I’d prefer, and when Haines sings, “Come on, play me something/ like ‘Here Comes the Sun'”, she tips her hand quite cleverly. Around the time of Exile on Main Street, you could have had a substantive debate about whether the Beatles or the Rolling Stones were the best band or whatever, but the Beatles quit before they could make a bad album and the Rolling Stones have now put out more bad albums than good ones. This analogy/diatribe will not, for those of you who are curious, be written into my wedding vows. At least I don’t think so.
Pitchfork praises the slower moments on Fantasies for revealing some sense of vulnerability that isn’t there on the faster tunes, but I (big surprise) don’t really see what they’re driving at. None of these songs seem particularly revealing – I don’t listen to Fantasies and go, “Oh. Now I know exactly who Emily Haines is.” And that’s not the point. The slow songs are fine, but the fast songs are fucking fun, and while Pitchfork staffers have this idea that fun = listening to that tool from Wavves masturbate onto a distortion pedal, I happen to think listening to Emily Haines sing about burnt out stars (“Front Row” is my current favorite track on the album”, partly because Haines sounds eerily like Emma Pollock on that tune) is a better bet.
There’s a deluxe edition of Fantasies that has acoustic versions of a couple of the songs, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to hear them – they’re not bad at all, but this album (kinda like It’s Blitz! by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) needs no unplugging, especially not right after ending on the awesomely silly “Stadium Love”. It needs to be cranked up and enjoyed in all its fully electric, poppy glory. Which I’m gonna do right now.