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- Posted on Jun 12th 2012 2:00PM by Joshua Ostroff
Of course, as the street pulled itself together, the rest of the world fell apart.
Needless to say, it's a poetically perfect place to find Metric's Giant Studios -- where they recorded their latest longplayer Synthetica -- considering the band's own rise over the same time span from a band of broken dreams to wildly popular and wildly independent success by chronicling the past decade's global turmoil.
If the band's career reflects the place they returned to in the fall of 2001, their music, from 2003's Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? onward, has mirrored the times we've all lived through -- beginning with their flight back home after a pair of towers fell in their previous Lower Manhattan 'hood.
"Old World was just straight-up pissed-off with no reverb," lead singer Emily Haines tells Spinner, "and I was personally miserable at that time because my dad died the day we finished Old World and then I went on tour."
On the road, Haines would go on increasingly dark digressions during "Dead Disco," a song that featured a different rant each night, culminating in a legendary 24-minute anti-Iraq War epic from 2004.
"One hundred thousand. Why are you cheering? What does that number mean to you? One hundred thousand innocent fucking people are dead in Iraq. One hundred thousand. That's a big number, that's our big, big, BIG number. One hundred thousand little bodies."
During a time when the trauma in the air was rarely reaching the recording studio, much less concert venues and radio, Metric were railing against succsexy invasions and the mindless consumerism the underwrote them.
Live it Out, released a year into Bush's second term, was less shocked by the Terror Era, but as heard on songs like "Monster Hospital," far angrier. Then, at the tail end of 2008, Metric crawled out of the rubble with single "Help I'm Alive" and released their most optimistic record yet in Fantasies. (Albeit one that still contained the savage '"Gold, Guns, Girls," which fed off the financial crisis with its refrain "Is it ever gonna be enough?")
"With Fantasies arriving with the Obama administration, it's like this is our time where we can stop addressing political issues and release like the only non-political Metric record ever made," Haines smiles.
"But you know, we're back in the fight for sure."
Indeed, Metric's almost eerie sense of the zeitgeist continued with the May Day release of Synthetica's first single "Youth Without Youth." Though initially sketched out at the tail-end of the Fantasies era, it echoed the violence of last summer's London Riots even as it arrived on the very day young protestors headed back out into the streets to clash with police around the world, including Montreal.
In a commentary track about the song posted in mid-April, Haines reflected the concerns of student protestors at home and abroad. "You're born free," she said, "but still, that $250 grand in student debt really gets in the way of your ability to thrive, in the sense that the older generation is kinda selling out the younger generation.
"It's as though it followed the trajectory of what we've seen happening in the socio-political realm of the world with young people," she now says. "As the song came out, this movement or whatever we're calling it, was becoming a phenomenon."
With its lyrical pairing of childhood games against imagery of vandalism, arson and hand grenades, the song is about a society slouching toward dystopia as seen though the eyes of its increasingly hopeless young trapped by debt and abandoned by austerity.
"The stakes are so much higher for younger kids now," Haines said, adding the song finally come together "basically simultaneous with this Occupy in New York and from that point forward it's been like we have this anthem that's sort of a crystal ball."