Metronomy on throwing the ‘traditional’ album model out the door

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Metronomy on throwing the ‘traditional’ album model out the door

Photo: Michele Yong
Words by Eddy Lim

We chat to the band’s frontman, Joe Mount, about their most mixtape-centric album yet.

Metronomy’s mastermind Joe Mount has been incredibly busy since the release of their last album, Summer 08, in 2016. He’s moved back to the English countryside from Paris, built a gorgeous home studio, and currently juggles the demanding requirements of being both a musician and a father – quite literally, too.

“I’m just heading home from a school run!” Mount gushes over the phone. “I’m just going to pull over now. You see, that’s the problem with doing interviews and also being a father.”

Most of Mount’s summer was spent overseas heralding the launch of their latest record, Metronomy Forever, which will mark the band’s sixth studio album to date. While stylistically similar to previous genre-bending Metronomy records, their latest effort unquestionably illustrates some of Mount’s most diverse and ambitious work to date.

“I think what I’ve decided to do now is just to do what I feel,” he says. “There isn’t one kind of music or one kind of style that I stick to. I make music that reflects what I’m about – and that can obviously mean a lot of different things. I’m not doing a very good job explaining it, but that’s how I currently feel about it, I guess.”

The kaleidoscopic listening experience gleaned from Metronomy Forever is almost comparable to a compilation album; a record that effectively cherry picks highlights from Metronomy’s lengthy and varied discography. However, this wasn’t originally the case.

“When I first started making this record, I was trying to make a ‘traditional’ record,” Mount explains. “In the sense of thinking about it being ten tracks long and having a coherent vibe throughout. And in doing that, it didn’t properly reflect what I do, and the way I listen to music. I listen to playlists and that type of thing – probably the same way most people do. After I started detracting away from that, all of it started to properly fall into place for me. The idea of [Metronomy Forever] was that it could be a mixtape or something in that world. You could listen to it like an album, or something that’s just playing in the background. And I think that’s what music is like now for a lot of people.”

After helping Robyn co-produce her album Honey last year, Mount can’t deny the creative freedom it brought to his own record – albeit in a surprisingly backwards manner.

“Musically, it’s almost like the opposite of an influence, really,” he says. “Like an absence of it. Making her record was so different – it was a very emotional situation that she was going through, and the experience from making her record was quite intense. When it came to my record, I didn’t have that same kind of emotional trauma to make an album out of. I think the experience of making her record led to mine being almost a more passive experience overall. I know that sounds negative, but it really wasn’t. In a good way, it became more of a ‘do what you feel’ or a ‘do whatever you want to do’ kind of thing.”

While some tracks on Metronomy’s album may seem worlds apart, its musical core still retains the head-bopping beats and whimsical nature of records past. For Mount, Metronomy Forever doubles as a historical reflection of sorts, interwoven with resounding motifs of continuation, permanence, and eternity.

“It’s a bit of a ‘meta’ album, I think,” says Mount. “The theme of the album is about being someone who’s grown up releasing records, making music and finding ways to fit in at this point in their career. I guess I’ve been putting records out for quite a while now, and in that time, lots of things have changed. I suppose the central theme of the record is simply being me in 2019 and trying to work out what I’m here for. It’s a bit of a birds-eye view of my life.”

Metronomy’s new album, Metronomy Forever, is out now via Because Music. Check it out via streaming services.