Live It Out
hy exactly don’t I like Broken Social Scene? Could you remind me again? I mean, I wanna have, like, ten thousand of Leslie Feist’s babies, and I think Metric’s “Dead Disco” is possibly the only product of the dance-punk mini-movement that actually works the way it’s s’posed to. And yet…You Forgot in People? Its genius is apparently lost on me, and the new one—even after three hopeful, largely undivided listens—barely registers at all.
If you’re inclined to call it inconsistency, P not equaling P and all of that, well, that’s just fine with me, especially since I also happen to like the new Metric a good deal more than either of the two BSS discs I’ve heard. Live It Out isn’t nearly as through-inspired as Feist’s Let It Die, a steady grower that had me at hello to begin with, but for indie-rock in twenty-ought-five, it’s mostly top-shelf.
The album opens with a track called “Empty,” hardly a particularly promising sign. After half a minute or so of field-recordings, a guitar shows up, playing what sounds like a vaguely sadder variation on the opening riff from Blink 182’s “What’s My Age Again.” No worries, though: Frontwoman Emily Haines makes her presence known soon enough, singing barely above a whisper over said sad-Blink loop. It’s totally gorgeous, until her band suddenly discovers the whole soft-loud thing, and our heroine gets lost amidst the noise. So, just as I’m about to sigh and hit the skip button, however, Haines reemerges, unscathed, playfully chanting the year’s funniest indie-rock mantra/dis: “I’m so glad that I’m an island.”
It might be the best song on the record (never a wise sequencing decision, unless, of course, I’m alone in giving it the edge over the proceeding nine). With its generic, crunchified mid-section, it’s certainly indicative of things to come. There isn’t a track on Live It Out that stays fresh from start to finish. Some takes wrong turns along the way; others simply wear out their welcome a tad too quickly. Still, all but a couple contain individual moments or elements strong enough to overshadow the weaker links.
Haines, for her part, is that rare vocalist who could make “10,000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” sound like sex. She’s got the raw star power necessary to make a Sonic Youth (c. Dirty) rip-off like “Glass Ceiling” worth playing more than twice. That’s saying something, though even she can’t do much with lead-off single “Monster Hospital,” a disappointingly limp attempt at rehashing the lighting-in-a-bottle brilliance of “Dead Disco.” The earlier track (off 2003’s Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?) managed to catch the attention of French auteur Olivier Assayas. He was evidently so impressed that he decided to feature Metric performing the song in his film, Clean. “Monster Hospital” probably won’t appear on the silver screen any time soon. But I’ll still take it over “Handjobs for the Holidays,” thank you very much.