Metric’s high-energy album tries to measure up

‘Lie to Die’ starts album on a clever high – but ends strung out

Frederic Hanson

Those who are fans of the metric system will be fans of Metric, the Los Angeles via Brooklyn via London via Montreal quartet from Toronto.

The band definitely sounds European.

“Live It Out,” the group’s follow-up to 2003’s “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?” is a jubilant cocaine odyssey laced with sexual guitars and enough pop perk to get someone pregnant.

Singer Emily Haines has some gorgeous, effervescent, sparkling moments when she is spitting lines like “I fought the war / but the war won” on “Monster Hospital.” Then “Glass Ceiling” thrills like an ice pick on a hot tooth while “Handshakes” gives a nod to resident New Yorkers The Strokes.

Haines’ voice is sublime throughout and at times, when riding the churning, shotgun-rock undulations of bandmates Jimmy Shaw, Josh Winstead and Joules Scott-Key, devastatingly feverish. At one point in “Handshakes,” Haines epileptically spurts, “Buy this car to drive to work / Drive to work to pay for this car.” It is touching.

But it’s always hard to maintain a high this sugary, and eventually the band has to come down.

Enter the second half of the album.

Songs like “Patriarch on a Vespa,” “The Police and the Private” and “Live it Out” are so strung-out on the Uptown blasé that it is impossible to make an investment in their cause. And the album cover is a total puke-tastrophy.

There are a lot of albums like this one coming out now, nipping the heels of Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and 1980s New Wave dance rock. They generally end up getting used for 20 seconds on VH1 promotions or Real World episodes. But do they really mean anything? Not really. Will they have any lasting impact? Probably not.

Is that fun in its own kind of way? Sure.