Friday, September 10, 2021

Metrophobia give us anything but ‘Silent Treatment’ on their infectious debut album

‘Silent Treatment’is the debut album from Switzerland-based duo Metrophobia and is a record brimming with nostalgia. Between the scuzzy guitars, wistful vocals and a range of pedal effects that take distortion to a whole new level, Metrophobia seal listeners in a 90s alt-rock time capsule for the duration of 49 minutes, giving anything but the silent treatment.

Named after the word meaning fear of poetry, Metrophobia are an alternative rock duo formed in Geneva, Switzerland, and consists of Swiss-born lead vocalist Marks Gmür and Spanish-born multi-instrumentalist José Garrido.

Explosive drums and growling guitars underpin the opening track and lead single ‘How Long’, as Gmür sings “I want to kiss you” in this romantic rock track. ‘Fire’ is introduced by the clattering of cymbals before a slightly more subdued guitar melody kicks in. Gmür’s vocals maintain a nasal drawl, akin to frontmen of the 90s ‘Madchester’ music scene, namely Ian Brown.Metrophobia are not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve; the speed-up-slow-down technique perfected by the Pixies is apparent. The heavy distortion on shoegaze-oriented tracks brings My Bloody Valentine to mind.  Meanwhile, abrasive guitars and heavy hitting percussion are more reminiscent of groups such as Sonic Youth and Pavement. This is by no means a bad thing, in fact, it demonstrates Metrophobia’s versatility and ability to make an album that explores a variety of sounds but still remains cohesive.

The opening bars of ‘Wendy May’ feature the revving of an engine before Gmür laments “She left me without saying goodbye.” Reverbed vocals and persistent percussion enhance this track, which already bursts with poetic lyricism: “She got lost in the sea / In the sea of my memories.”

Garrido’s skilful strumming is particularly apparent on fourth track ‘Missing’ and complements Gmür’s nonchalant vocals. ‘Black and Blue’ continues in a similar vein, in terms of its easy-going instrumentation; however, it takes off in its final minute or so, building up a wall of noise as Gmür’s vocals become increasingly despairing as he yearns for a lost love.Leading on from that, ‘Love Passed Away’ grinds and grovels with grunge-inspired guitars and a simple but effective chorus which intensifies as the tune progresses. 

Meanwhile, ‘The World I Hate’ utilises harsher noise-rock instrumentation which is juxtaposed by Gmür’s soft vocal harmonies, making for a totally unique listen.

‘Plastic Superstar’ breathes new life into the alternative rock genre, fizzing with its amalgamation of plaintive hooks, sizzling guitar licks, and thunderous drums. Gmür muses on celebrity culture and social media, singing of “Plastic bodies” and “Plastic smiles.” Furthermore, ‘Hundred Times’ adopts a sound closer to post-rock, with soaring guitars that weave a highly ornate instrumental tapestry.

The album takes a turn in sound with ‘Wicked Girl’, which is a much heavier track. Immediately introduced by blaring drums, the song erupts into tumultuous riffs which dominate much of the track. It is punctuated with audio samples revolving around personal growth, a sentiment which many a listener will relate to (“Sure I’ve made a few mistakes / But I’ve learned from them”). It’s an epic track at six and a half minutes but its length reflects the personal journey of its protagonist, making for a magical listen. ‘Everything Goes To Hell’ draws the record to a satisfying close, returning to the nostalgic noise-rock of earlier tracks.

The final track, ‘Silent Treatment’, is a highly textured record that acts as a love letter to 90s alternative rock but simultaneously allows the duo to showcase their musical prowess and flair for producing catchy hooks and infectious melodies.


Sarah Taylor


Image: Metrophobia ‘Silent Treatment’ Official Album Artwork

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