When I used to listen to Metronomy’s debut album I would never have predicted them as one of the success stories of 2011. It was great little record (and they have always been an enjoyable live act), but they felt like a band for the moment, rather than a long term preposition. Fast forward 5 years and they are heavily hyped throughout the music press, nominated for a Mercury prize and are embarking on an almost sold out tour. Quite a change of fortunes for the band that, admittedly, played to “about 5 people” last time they visited the Leadmill.
So where has this sudden success come from? Unlike most of their over-hyped 2006 contemporaries (The Zutons, the Vines & The Feeling for example) they have managed to refine and move forwards, rather than trying to recreate past successes. Instead of getting lost in the post-2006 “ladrock” scene that dominated (and almost sank) rock music, they steadily built up a fan base and played festivals. With alternative music returning back to being more of a cult concern, the stars have aligned and they have released a career defining album. An album that derives it strengths through subtlety and atmosphere rather than by stealing pop gimmicks.
Online hype is a fickle thing, but there is nothing wrong with being introduced to a wider audience. There is, though, nothing worse than popularity ruining a bands live experience. Back in 2008 I saw the depressing sight that was British Sea Power trying to work up a crowed of people who only knew one song. It had recently both been played on an episode of Skins and picked as “single of the week” in Q. The mix of bored looking 15 year olds and 30 year olds was a strange site, but not a particularly compelling one. Metronomy’s album orientated approach to their new material appears to have paid off. Their expanded fan base seemed equally overjoyed by material from all the bands past earas, giving older songs a new lease of life.
Their energetic live interpretation of recent material provides a great link between their current maturity and the Metronomy of old. Its good to see the LED lights still pinned to their chests, and glad to see them having so much fun. Lets hope the rest of the tour is as successful as their stop in Sheffield.