The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Music Monday: #2 – Metric: Grow Up and Blow Away

Like last weeks selection, this album is another female fronted indie-pop gem, however I can easily just say that’s where the similarities end. Whereas Show Your Bones showed a band simultaneously growing together and tearing themselves apart, both musically and as people, Grow Up and Blow Away is the sound of “what could be”. Metric, when making this album in 2001 were only barely a band, consisting pretty much solely of Emily Haines and James Shaw and when compared to their later efforts like the punky guitar orientated Live It Out or the anthemic Fantasies, it shows that this is a band who are still coming to grips with who they are and what they want to do. In a way, you could say this is their childhood or teenage album, full of wonder and angst, debating what it’ll one day be, and feeling like a journey in 40 minutes, starting from teenage dis-satisfaction (Grow Up and Blow Away) to ending pondering whether it was all worth it (London Half-Life). You could argue that this album in fact allowed them to grow up and blow away themselves.

Of course, I can’t really talk about this album without mentioning its history. Originally recorded in 2001, it was delayed for years by their record label, despite having used tracks for promos. However, Metric are never a band to stay still and they eventually got sick of waiting and recorded a new album with their new sound on a different label and so Grow Up And Blow Away was lost until 2007, by which point, the band had already released two albums, but fan dedication and Metric’s current label buying the rights meant it could finally get released, albeit with a slightly altered track listing. And it’s this 2007 version we’re going to be talking about.

Now on a personal level, this was the first Metric album I bought, which I picked up around late 2010 at an indie record store, mostly because I liked the cover. And I’ve since bought all their albums, but like some other bands I’m fond of, whilst I love all their albums, I seem to continue to have a soft spot for the album that introduced me to them, and in Metric’s case, its this one, it’s clearly the most laidback, stripped down album they’ve ever done (Oh, I wonder why…) and for some reason it just stayed with me more than the others. Was it good timing? Grow Up and Blow Away, along with a couple other albums (which I’ll probably talk about some other time) seemed to soundtrack this turbulent period I was going through and it just seemed to kind of fit in ways that I can’t think many other albums have. I guess in some ways I felt I could relate to lines like “Somebody put me back in school/I forget everything I used to know” and the disillusionment of the youth showcased in the title track, “If this is the life/why does it feel so good to die today/blue to grey/grow up and blow away”

But enough about this and on to the album. Here is an album chock full of some of the best pop songs you’ll ever hear, all range from beautiful, such as the bitter The Twist and the reflective London Half-Life (which I used to make a short film a few months back) to catchy, such as Raw Sugar and On The Sly to even slightly sexy, like Hardwire. Emily is a really talented singer-songwriter even in this early stage, and from listening to her lyrics, it’s clear Metric are natural successors to No Doubt, Blondie and all these succesful female fronted groups, and that they must have influenced artists that came after, I doubt without Metric, we’d have bands like Paramore, Best Coast, heck even the succesful comic series Scott Pilgrim drew inspiration from them. And with their 5th album, Synthetica due out later this year and with every release the band getting bigger and bigger, it’s nice to have this small intimate record of just two people, making music that sounds innocent, yet cynical, and dreaming of bigger and better things. It’s lucky we even got this album at all in the end, and it at least it gives us an interesting tale, and an excuse for hipsters to tell people “Yeah, the first albums good, but it’s not as good as the FIRST album,” Not that I’ve ever done that…

Key tracks

. Grow Up And Blow Away
. The Twist
. London Half-Life

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