To believe in the power of songs
To believe in the power of girls"
Metric is a Canadian indie band founded in 1998 in Toronto, consisting of vocalist Emily Haines (who also plays the synthesizer and guitar), guitarist James Shaw (who also plays the synthesizer and theremin), bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key.
The band (originally comprised of Haines, the daughter of British poet Paul Haines, and Shaw, a Julliard-trained guitarist who she met in Toronto) formed in 1998 under the name Mainstream, and released an EP that was electronica-based. In the fall of that year, Haines and Shaw moved to New York to work on new material, renaming the group Metric as a result. During this time, they also recorded their first official LP, Grow Up And Blow Away in 2001, although it would not be released until 2007. Later that year, the group brought on Scott-Key (a native of Flint, Michigan who was studying at the University of Texas) and his friend Winstead, who both performed music and met the duo during a trip to New York. With the new lineup, Metric released their first full-length album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, in 2003 and earned a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Their follow-up CD, Live It Out, was released in 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize for the Canadian Album of The Year and the Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Their next album, Fantasies, was nominated for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for Canadian Album of the Year, and won Alternative Album of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards. 2012 saw the release of their fifth full-length, "Synthetica", followed by their sixth album, "Pagans in Vegas", in 2015.
The band is known for a heavy mix of fast-paced New Wave Music/electropop music, which became their signature sound. In addition to her work with the band, Haines has performed with various indie bands, including Broken Social Scene (with Shaw), Stars (she sang the female part of "Going, Going, Gone" which was recorded before Amy Millan joined the band), KC Accidental and The Stills, and has also recorded three solo albums (under Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton), Knives Don't Have Your Back, What Is Free to a Good Home?, and Choir of the Mind. The other band members have also branched into side projects.
- Studio Albums
- Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003)
- Live It Out (2005)
- Grow Up and Blow Away (2007, recorded in 2001)
- Fantasies (2009)
- Synthetica (2012)
- Pagans in Vegas (2015)
- Art of Doubt (2018)
- Formentera (2022)
- Extended Plays
- Mainstream (EP) (1998)
- Static Anonymity (EP) (2001)
- Plug In Plug Out (EP) (2009)
They have also contributed music to the following films:
- Clean (2004) - "Dead Disco" (including a live performance)
- Tormented (2009) - "Monster Hospital"
- Totally Spies! The Movie (2009) - "Gold Guns Girls"
- Zombieland (2009) - "Gold Guns Girls", "Help I'm Alive"
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) - "Black Sheep"note
- Eclipse (2011) - "Eclipse (All Yours)"
- Cosmopolis (2012)
- Album Title Drop: The opening of "I.O.U.", which directly references the album title of the same name - "Old world underground, where are you now?" Fantasies also has one in the song "Sick Muse": "All the blondes are fantasies..."
- Title Track: "Live It Out", "Grow Up and Blow Away", "Synthetica", "Art of Doubt", "Formentera". Fantasies doesn't have one, nor do Pagans in Vegas or Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?.
- Broken Record: "Hustle Rose" has the line "Now that your wallet is all lit up". Repeated nine times in a row in the Lyrical Cold Open and a further six times two minutes into the song.
- Break-Up Song: "Wet Blanket".
- The Cameo: Haines briefly appears in K-Os' "Man I Used To Be", The Stills' "Love And Death" and Julian Plenti's "Games For Days" music videos.
- Canon Discontinuity: Although the band acknowledges they were originally called Mainstream, the EP of the same name has never been re-released, and none of the songs appeared on either of the EP's released three years later.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Monster Hospital", with a Splash of Color in the form of red blood. (Also has Book Ends in color.)
- Dress Rehearsal Video: "Gimme Sympathy" has Haines walking to a band rehearsal and (along with the band) suddenly changing outfits and seating placements as the camera continually spins around 360 degrees.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- The "Mainstream" EP had little to none of the signature sound the group would codify on "Static Anonymity" and "Old World Underground", was much more downtempo and electronica-based, and didn't have supporting bandmates Joules Scott-Key and Joshua Winstead (they hadn't joined the band yet). Even "Grow Up and Blow Away" (which was also recorded in 2001 while Metric was still a duet) is a marked difference from the higher energy LP they would release only two years later.
- Even for recent fans, it can come off very jarring to watch the music video for "I.O.U." and see a band performing in something that looks like it had a budget of $20, Haines (who has very short brunette hair, as opposed to her later blonde hairstyle) sitting at her piano for most of the video, and her dancing coming off like someone who's having a seizure.
- Epic Rocking: "Doomscroller" from their 2022 album Formentera is their longest song to date, at 10 minutes and 29 seconds.
- Face on the Cover: Prominently on Old World Underground and Static Anonymity. Less prominently on Live It Out.
- Gratuitous French: "Poster of a Girl". Possibly because Everything Sounds Sexier in French."Et de ne jamais le trouverQui ne pense qu'à coucher avec une"
- Gratuitous Panning: "Ending Start".
- "I Want" Song: "The Shade";"With eternal love, stars above, all there is and ever was, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all
A blade of grass, a grain of sand, moonlit seas, I'll hold your hand, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all"
- Instrumentals: "The Face", both Parts I and II
- Ironic Episode Title: Mainstream EP, a debut album by a then-unknown indie band which is impossible to find in stores.
- Large Ham: Not often, but Emily does really ham it up on some songs."I FOUGHT THE WAR, I FOUGHT THE WAR, I FOUGHT THE WAR BUT THE WAR WON/STAWWWP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD/I FOUGHT THE WAR, I FOUGHT THE WAR BUT THE WAR WON!!"."NO. ONE'S. GET-TING. OUT! OOOO-OO-oo-OOO WITHOUT STAAAAADIUM LOVE!"
- Long Runner Lineup: Type 2. Since the addition of Winstead and Scott-Key in 2001, there have been no lineup changes in the band.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "I.O.U." features a rocking piano/guitar combo, starts out with some interesting lyrics about living life to the fullest...then transitions into a rant about child soldiers wishing falling bombs were shooting stars, all while the same kickass beat drives the song.
- "Too Little Too Late". Emily sings "You can take a live wire into the bath with you.." over gently strumming guitar.
- "Lost Kitten" has a sweet, upbeat-sounding instrumental with lyrics about underage prostitution and drinking.
- Male Band, Female Singer
- Messy Hair: Haines is known for her bleached, loosely-kept hair.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover of Fantasies is... a lightbulb.
- The cover of the "Mainstream" EP consists of a blurry black/grey background behind the name of the EP and a song list, all in lower case.
- The cover of Art of Doubt simply consists of a black background with the band name and the outline of an oddly-shaped circle.
- Money Song: "Gold Guns Girls" is an inversion.
- Ms. Fanservice: Zig-zagged. When the band first came to prominence, Haines was known for wearing skinny short skirts and frantic, hip-shaking dancing (which was a staple of their early music videos). As time progressed, however, she dropped the dancing and switched to pants and exposed midriffs.
- New Sound Album: Live It Out dialed back the synthesizers and focused on heavy bass and guitar work, partially splintering the group's fanbase. Fantasies returned to the fusion of synthesizer-guitar that was prevalent on Old World Underground. Synthetica and Pagans in Vegas are decidedly more electronic than their predecessors.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Torture Me".
- The video for "Poster of a Girl" also invokes bondage imagery, with Haines wrapping her hands in white strips of fabric and simulating being tied up, and wearing a blindfold.
- Obsession Song: "Poster of a Girl", which depending on your interpretation, is either Haines obsessing over random sexual encounters or her reaction to someone who's infatuated with her.
- Older Than They Look: Haines is in her forties now, but still looks much the same as she did in the band's early days.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: The rare occasions when they've done a few acoustic songs before. The deluxe edition of Fantasies has several, including a cover of Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain".
- Performance Video: A staple of the band's work, most videos just have the band performing in front of various backgrounds, or (in the case of "The List") the events leading up to a live performance.
- Precision F-Strike: "Artificial Nocturne" from Synthetica and "Satellite Mind" from Fantasies are each the only song from their respective albums to contain profanity. The former is especially notable since it's the opening track on the album and the first of the two F-words is in the opening line.
- Protest Song: "Succexy" is a veiled call to arms against the glamorization of the U.S. War on Terror.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? is one long rant at the U.S. government's occupation of Iraq in 2002-2003. Several of the music videos (Combat Baby, Succexy) invoke anti-war imagery, and several of the songs (I.O.U. and others) reference child soldiers and anti-war sentiments.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Monster Hospital" and the accompanying music video.
- Shout-Out: "The List" features the lyric "Yeah yeah yeah, broken accidental stars," a reference to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Broken Social Scene, KC Accidental and Stars (four Canadian indie bands Haines has performed with, and even lived with).
- "Twilight Galaxy" has a possible shout out to IAMX in the line 'There's no glitter in the gutter/there's no twilight galaxy', as "There's glitter in the gutter" is one of the lines in IAMX's song "Skin Vision".
- "I fought the war, but the war won..."
- The arms coming out of the walls in the video for "Monster Hospital" are a reference to the Roman Polański film Repulsion.
- Oh Please, the penultimate song on Formentera, contains the line "I paint the walls in slim shady".
- Song of Song Titles: "Gimme Sympathy" invokes The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and "Sympathy For The Devil", and the lyrics reference "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles.
- Spoken Word in Music: The verses in "Rock Me Now" are narrated by Emily in this manner, while James sings the chorus.
- The verses in "The Mandate" are spoken in a slow, rhythmic, not-quite-singing style.
- Surreal Music Video: "Dead Disco" has the band playing in a studio with psychedelic imagery overlaid in the background - and Haines' gyrating hips.
- "Monster Hospital" has a Psychological Horror theme with Emily being abducted by unknown assailants who grab her through the floor, take her to some kind of asylum and attempt to restrain her. Then she escapes and finds her bandmates playing but they're covered in blood, and there's blood coming out of the sink and the electrical sockets. Fortunately it was All Just a Dream.
- The Lad-ette: Haines, who has made no secret of the fact that she can be just as bad as her male band members, and has cheerfully admitted to sleeping on mattresses in dirty motels (even when the band was big) and drinking like a fish.
- The Oner: The music video for "Gimme Sympathy".
- Step Up to the Microphone: James Shaw sings on a few of their B-sides, like the acoustic outtakes from Fantasies (see Out-of-Genre Experience above).
- The Thunderdome: The setting for "Stadium Love"Emily: "I had just gotten back from Coachella, and I walked into the studio and noticed on the bulletin board that Joules had written ‘spider vs bat'... For me, that phrase triggered an entire narrative that was about a gladiator-style enormo-dome where everything turns in on itself, with every form of aggression on display for spectators"
- Trenchcoat Brigade: Worn by Haines in several of the band's videos.
- Vocal Tag Team: Emily and James did this in a few of the songs from Grow Up and Blow Away, although "The Other Side" from Pagans in Vegas has this as well.
- Wanderlust Song: "The Wanderlust".