>> Metric’s been an indie-radio mainstay for fifteen years now. With “Art of Doubt”, they prove they haven’t forgotten the basics.
“Art of Doubt” is an angry album. Since 2005’s “Live It Out”, Metric has been dialing back the raw emotion for a cleaner sound. Try listening to “Patriarch on a Vespa” back-to-back against “The Shade” -- it’s an entirely different feeling. Luckily for us, though, something’s pissed off Emily Haines since “Pagans in Vegas”. “Art of Doubt” brings back that early-stage Metric rage that fueled the band on their first two LPs. The title track is possibly the best example, with venom dripping from nearly every lyric. It’s a side of Metric we haven’t seen in a while, and it makes for a very welcome return.
Where “Art of Doubt” doesn’t backtrack, though, is the complexity. Metric has added more and more depth to each album, layering on new sounds as they see fit. This album cranks those gains to eleven. Harmonizing synths, massive guitar pedalboards, even copy-pasting Emily Haines’ vocals into triplicate -- no technique is off-limits. It makes for a full range of sound, truly giving the impression of something both classic and modern. This is 2018’s “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now”.
“Art of Doubt” has only been out for a matter of days, yet it still somehow feels tired. Sure, it’s got all the right anger in all the right places, and you can still find grating synths paired with a classic Emily Haines high note. Unfortunately, there’s something low-intensity about all of it. “Art of Doubt” falls into that classic late-stage album pitfall: it sounds rehearsed. Rather than the pure energy of a band’s debut EP, “Art of Doubt” sounds like each track is the tenth or twentieth take -- and everyone just wants to go home.
“Art of Doubt” was a slow burn. At first, it felt sanitized -- or even forced. However, listening deeper (and through better speakers) unlocks new levels to the album. It’s not the follow-up to “Pagans in Vegas” that everyone expected. Somehow, it’s in equal parts a sequel to “Synthetica” and “Live It Out”, and it pulls it off perfectly. It may not hit every mark all the time, but it shows that Metric isn’t going to disregard the back catalog. If this is the direction they go from here, we’re all in for a hell of a ride. 4.6/5 <<