The English Riviera, Metronomy’s third album, was released in 2011. It was at this moment in time that the previously small English group was beginning to make headlines in the independent music scene. Whereas a few years earlier they were touring small concert halls where the spotlights were fixed to their chests with safety pins, their name was now being splashed across every festival program out there.
Almost ten years later and the band’s image remains inseparable from that of the iconic black palm tree in the centre of the record’s cover. Eleven tracks have forever coloured Metronomy’s image – to the point where the rest of Joseph Mount’s prolific discography has been eclipsed. This playlist is therefore an opportunity for me to take out my torch and bring to light all the tracks that remain in The English Riviera’s shadow.
Our story begins in 1999 when Joseph Mount came up with the name Metronomy and plunged himself into the depths of his computer in an attempt to extract some sounds. At the time – very inspired by Autechre, Funkstorung, and Aphex Twin – he began to mix, finding enjoyment in composing electronic tracks, each one more crazy than the last. In 2006 he chose twelve of these tracks to make up his first album Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe). This album, oft-forgotten, laid the foundations for Metronomy’s sound with tracks like “Bearcan”, “I String Strung”, and “Danger Song”. Somewhere between the weird samples, the dissonant dance music, and the hair-raising melodies, a musical identity made up of experimentation with sound began to take shape. The album opens with “You Could Easily Have Me”, a completely crazy track, the extreme antithesis of the band’s image today. Metronomy’s DNA appears to be less pop than experimental. Who would have thought?
Five albums followed, during which Pip Paine’s very raw sound gradually faded away in favour of the cleaner production we find on The English Riviera. However, even when he takes a more pop turn, going as far as composing in guitar/voice on Love Letters, Joseph Mount just can’t help but let the work be infused with his strange ideas. From “Loving Arm” to “Lying Low” to “Boy Racers”, each of his songs is full of surprising, extravagant electronic melodies, reminding us that he is nothing less than a very successful enthusiast of musical DIY.