Formentera is the name of an idyllic island off the coast of Spain, notably known for being a getaway where artists like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell would escape to write in solitude. It’s also the name of Metric’s eighth studio album, which aims to be a creative form of escapism for those who have been following the Canadian band throughout their longstanding career. Fronted by Emily Haines, it’s the band’s first album in four years, following 2018’s Art of Doubt, and they’re determined to keep pushing their sound into darker, neon-soaked territories.
“Doomscroller” is by far the album’s highlight; a frantic, 10-minute opener that contemplates society’s obsession with depressing news updates. The song grows increasingly manic as distorted vocals scream “Don’t give up yet, don’t give up now” over and over, before Haines’ voice rushes in like a cool breeze when you escape the club. “I can’t seem to shut it down until the worst is over,” Haines sings. “And it’s never over.” This is Metric at their best, mixing hot beats and cold vocals that create a perfect blend.
“All Comes Crashing” is another example. You wouldn’t expect Haines’ voice to somehow sound clearer and fresher than it did way back in their 2004 debut, but it does as it clambers over crackling and pulsing synth. It’s another song that bemoans the possible end of the world, a repetitive theme across Formentera.
The album is a bit of a rush, for better and for worse, and when it’s over, it feels surprisingly fast. With the second half blurring together, perhaps a slower song could’ve added some space for the album to breathe. But hey, Metric is 18 years into their career, and they’re showing zero signs of slowing down. Who are we tell them what to do?