If we disregard the brilliant accident of The English Riviera, then Summer 08 is arguably Metronomy’s best album to date. It’s no use comparing anything in Metronomy’s discography to the anomaly of their third album. It wasn’t fair calling Love Letters (2014) a huge disappointment and I won’t make the same again. Summer 08 is a retrospect on Joseph Mount’s live around the time of recording Nights Out (2008). The album is also new manifestation of Mount’s desire to sound like a black funk musician from Tennessee instead of a stark white New Waver from Devon. On Summer 08 he does a much better job at failing to fulfill this desire than on Love Letters.
Mount himself thinks that many will consider Summer 08 a return to form because Love Letters was a breather from dancey, upbeat, fun music. But these are terms that I never associate with Metronomy in the first place. Sure, you can dance on Summer 08, better than on Love Letters. But it’s a moody, stand-offish and sometimes vitriolic dance that invites distant admiration more than it does joining in. It’s a dance that allows Mount to incorporate anything from silly Andre 3000 type dialogues to Mick Karn’s trademark singing bass lines into his Wonky pop parade without sounding..eh..wonky.
Another big improvement compared to the analogue mistake of Love Letter is the sound quality of Summer 08. Mount, who recorded the album on his own in three weeks, is a man of detail and they are all perfectly audible on this good old-fashioned DDD album. Most importantly the songwriting is some of the best that Mount has done so-far. Opening song Back Together evolves from a cartoonesque dating song into. Miami Logic and Hang Me Out To Dry, with vocals by Robyn are catchy and brisk and definitely single material. 16 Beat is an animated dance track about writing dance tracks. Mick Slow, a tribute to the aforementioned Japan bass player, who died in 2011, is a highlight. At the end of the song we hear a manic side of Mount that for the first time drown my feelings of nostalgia for The English Riviera in anticipation of what the man might have in store for us in the future.