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Nights Out Charles Ubaghs , September 10th, 2008 14:43


It’s been drilled into our heads over and over again. This is the decade where indie kids finally stopped staring at the floor and realised the joys of getting their proverbial rocks off by picking out the rhythms of their favourite guitar tracks and slamming them together with bits and bobs from the heady world of dance.

In theory, it’s a grand idea that has the capacity to tear down the tribal divides and accept what should be the obvious fact that, yes, people might actually have diverse musical tastes which embrace the hardcore punk of vintage Black Flag, hip hop, disco, noise rock and even the most effete of limp-wristed indie bands. It’s what made Erol Alkan’s Trash such a success and allows James Murphy to produce brilliant, leftfield dance pop that owes a massive debt to his love of disco and his rock roots (listen to his early band Speedking. There’s not a cowbell or handclap in sight).

The unofficial leaders certainly paved a way (as they always do), but few of the followers have taken the idea fully to heart, let alone grasped the nuances behind it. The undeniably excellent Hot Chip carved a space out for themselves on the musical landscape, but the onslaught of followers has also forced us to endure the disposable likes of Hadouken!, Does it Offend You Yeah? and…well, the list goes on…and on…and on.

Yet even within a haze of forgettable pop bands that think a token keyboard and drum machine will guarantee their place on the cutting edge, the odd light occasionally shines through. Enter Metronomy’s Nights Out.

Digging deeper into his record collection than just a few LCD Soundsystem singles for inspiration, Nights Out finds Metronomy main man Joseph Mount taking a break from his in-demand remix work in order to step out of his bedroom, with a proper band in tow, and craft what’s become something of an endangered species in this day and age: a sophomore record that actually improves on a debut.

Ditching the purely instrumental approach of earlier work, Nights Out is a record with crossover stamped all over it as Mount finally sucks up enough courage to step to the mic and open his mouth. Essentially a loose concept album about going out and girls (what else?), ‘Heartbreaker’ takes centre stage as Mount consoles a recently heartbroken friend against a backdrop of melancholic synth pop and an absurdly ingratiating melody. ‘Radio Ladio’ serves up a slice of geek funk that’s as much classic Human League as it is ‘Underpass’ era John Foxx and the purple paisley one himself.

The references may fly fast, but Metronomy tie them all together with a studied wit and intelligence sorely lacking from many of their neon-clad peers. So whether it’s the electronic funeral dirge of ‘Nights Out Intro’ or the high-hat abusing punk funk of ‘Holiday’, Mount and co. prove there just might be some life left within the dried up husk more commonly known as indie-dance.

Of course, the verdict is still out on whether or not Metronomy can fully resuscitate this near terminal genre, but if Nights Out turns out to simply be an elegy for the party that never really was, then it’s certainly a fine place to finish.