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Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
(Enjoy Records)

Damn it. When did I become such a fan of pop music? I think that hearing something like Metric a couple years ago would have made me run screaming from the room, but for some reason or another I've found myself listening to this thing over and over since I got it. For those who keep track of such things (sadly, I have to admit that I do), lead singer and keyboardist Emily Haines is the same Emily Haines that sung lead vocals on last years glorious "Anthems For A 17 Year-Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene.

If you're thinking that Metric sounds even remotely similar to that track, though, you've got another thing coming. This is 10 tracks and just under 40 minutes of synth-laden indie pop music that bounces, occasionally rocks, and even drops one of the better protest songs that I've heard in some time. Opening with "IOU," the release gets off to a blistering start as building guitars and drums rise under Haines' urgent vocals before the track breaks off into a loping middle section and eventually kicks things back into gear for a rollicking close.

"Hustler Rose" is the longest track on the release, and it's also the most disjointed, sounding like several mini-tracks blended into one (including a bubbly intro, a touching middle section, and an upbeat ending). "Succexy" is the great track mentioned above that isn't afraid to place some blame on lazyiness and inattentiveness rather than simply calling out an evil empire with the line 'All we do is talk, static, split screens / while the homeland plans new enemies." Of course, it's all placed in a bubbly synth-pop framework, but it somehow makes it work even better. "Combat Baby" is another three and a half minute gem that could easily claw into the greater conscienceness given the right push.

Whether they're being more understated (the simple, yet lovely programmed arpeggio and vocals of Haines on "Calculation Theme") or obvious (the dancefloor riffing and overblown vocals/lyrics of "Dead Disco"), tracks are put together fairly solidly and have hooks to spare. Although it isn't always stunning, it's a great debut from a group who obviously has some serious talent. There's no use even checking this release out if you're not ready for some indie dance pop (imagine a female-led, slightly less goth obsessed version of The Faint and you're getting close), but if you're in the mood for something a smidge lighter, it should thrill.

Rating: 7.5