Metro Expo – Metro Expo 1
Deeply and carefully thought through and constructed, Metro Expo 1 is a concept album through and through.
‘What Is Going On’ opens the album with a crunchy and disturbed drum loop that crackles and bleeps, paving the way for the vocals to enter the picture, which begin gently but reveal flashes of pain and anger in the occasional cracks that appear. ‘You’ve Stolen Millions’ takes things in a more traditional direction, with its rocky bass notes and shuffling drums, while the effected vocals lean somewhat towards the stylings of Beck or Mark ‘Eels’ Everett. The track has something of a misleading start however, as it eventually explodes into moments of metal, before sliding into a trippy moment of psychedelia. What is amazing is how all these elements then are brought together, and they fuse together in a remarkably beautiful way. ‘Waiting For A War’ keeps going with the Beck influences, starting off with a nod to ‘Deadweight’, and advancing into folk tinges guitar plucks that add a reggae feel. The song unfolds like a piece of paper, layer upon layer gradually being added until we are finally presented with a rich set of sounds that all blend together to create a tangible atmosphere. The album manages to maintain a consistency in its aesthetic, while also drawing on a wide range of styles – ‘Out Of Sight’ brings a swooning, swaggering country vibe laced with brass swells and organ swirls, while ‘Nothing Here’s Real’ blends a seventies psych rock feel with the guts of nineties indie rock, and ‘Come To Me’ draws once more on that smoky, spaghetti western Americana sound that bands such as Calexico made so incredibly cool. ‘While You Look Away’ splutters and blusters like classic rock as it should be played in a bar, with its honky tonk piano and the effortless cool of what sounds like an upright bass. It’s as tight and considered as it is scattered and nuts, which ends up working really well as an exciting piece of alternative rock. There are moments of calm to be found, too, like on ‘The Shore’, with its distant sounding guitar that paints a picture of stones being skimmed across the ocean, while the drums shuffle gently beneath things, providing a sure foundation that mysteriously ebbs and flows. All the while, we are given vocal samples, spoken words that fade in and out, creating a sense of craziness that fits the album’s concept so well – the voices in the head, the confusion, and the calm that seems to reappear all of a sudden. As the album begins to draw to its close, ‘Inertia’ plays out as a relatively straightforward rock track that takes cues from Noel Gallagher and the Beatles’ elements he always borrowed from, until we finally arrive at the concluding ‘The Swan Lullaby’. It’s a fitting conclusion to such a self assured album, proving the feeling of arriving at the end of a long and intentional journey – the closing track draws on many of the tones and sounds that have featured throughout the record, much like one might think back over what they have experienced over the previous days, weeks, months, and years.