In an effort to prove Metric
frontwoman Emily Haines
was not the only dominating personality behind the Canadian indie rock group's first album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
, the second album hammers home the fact that it's more of a group effort. Production duties were handed to guitarist James Shaw
' trademark synths take a back seat to screeching guitars and more cohesive playing as a quartet. Despite the added punk rock punch the guitar gives, the bite of their debut is dulled by a weaker set of songs, with only minor aesthetic changes to mask the slight sophomoric slump. Live It Out
desires to be a major step forward (Emily Haines
would release her first solo album, Knives Don't Have Your Back
, a year later), but the best moments on the album are the ones that recapture what made the debut such a compelling piece of '80s retro -- showcasing Haines
' trademark keyboards and her effective cooing vocals, which manage to sound both cloyingly sexy and gutturally raw at the same time. "Poster of a Girl" transforms a few rudimentary French lyrics and an unassuming keyboard intro into a spacy, groovy dance track. "The Police and the Private" is an effectively simple and haunting keyboard-heavy song that shows Haines
' best vocal performances are the down to earth ones (something she thankfully discovered on her solo album). As with Old World Underground
has a tendency for collegiate-level prose when the band gets political, and songs like the "Combat Baby" knockoff "Handshakes" have a smug, elitist attitude about them, without providing much insight into their political beliefs. The first single, the hooky "Monster Hospital," is a light-hearted punk song with great non-sequitur lyrics, but the overdubbed guitars and big production typically reserved for an alternative rock album don't fight the overall motif of Live It Out
. There's a reason Haines
was featured on the cover of Old World Underground
and it's possibly this: she's what separates Metric
from other '80s revivalist groups.