Look, let’s be honest here: nothing Metric does can compare to the excellence of 2009’s Fantasies, though its 2012 follow-up Synthetica did come close. That being said, I still had higher expectations of the synth-pop band I’ve been following for nearly 10 years. And I don’t even mind the genre shift to darker synth rock, either. In fact, I think the instrumentals are the best part of Art of Doubt, actually refreshing after the simpler tones in Pagans in Vegas.
In contrast to the music, however, Art of Doubt is by far the most lyrically disappointing album Metric has released thus far. It seems Metric has decided that “Lie Lie Lie” from Pagans in Vegas was their best song and ran away with the formula. The first single they released off the record, “Dark Saturday,” is in my opinion the worst song they’ve ever written. The word “dark” is used over 50 times in the song, and no, I’m not exaggerating. I counted them all. The outro alone uses the word 37 times in a span of 45 seconds.
I know songs are supposed to employ repetitive lyrics in order to get people singing along in their first listen, but I’m being nice when I say that in this case, it seems excessive at best. At worst, it’s just plain lazy. Which is awfully disappointing, considering the rest of the lyrics imply a story of two women whose “bodies intertwine” despite their conflicting statements on life and privilege. It had a great concept, but the execution is, frankly, annoying.
Sadly, “Dark Saturday” is not the only song on the record guilty of this strategy. The second single they released, “Dressed to Suppress,” repeats the title phrase so often it’s the only lyric I can even recall from the song. “Love You Back” also crams itself full of “la la la”s in replacement of actual words, and “Die Happy” and “Seven Rules” run along similar lyrical lines.
That being said, most of these repetitive songs lie in the first quarter of the album. The rest of the songs, including “Art of Doubt,” are fairly solid additions to Metric’s repertoire. Not that they’re particularly incredible compared to some of their older works, but they’re certainly better than the low bar that “Dark Saturday” sets.
Maybe that’s why it’s the song that Art of Doubt opens with, so that you know it can’t get any worse from there. Normally, a band will order its songs so that the album ends on the weaker entries, but the case seems to be the opposite here. In fact, I’d say “Anticipate” and “No Lights on the Horizon” (which come in last) are the best tracks on the record. In fact, they’re more in tune with Metric’s last few albums than this one, and almost feel out of place. I think fans of a more classic Metric sound will appreciate these two.
I imagine it’s difficult after six albums to not only keep old fans with a similar style, but also create something original enough to bring in new fans. It’s a fine line to balance, and many bands struggle to achieve it. With the release of this seventh album, Metric certainly misses the mark. With a few exceptions, this is one album in their discography that long-time fans might want to ignore. Actually, new listeners should skip this one as well. If you want some interesting synth and unique lyrics, pick up a copy of Fantasies and Synthetica. If you really want to support Metric, you can even pick up their older albums, such as Old World Underground or Live it Out.
“It’s true, I’m flawed,” is the opening line of “No Lights on the Horizon,” and I don’t think Art of Doubt could describe itself better.