The latest in a wave of ‘not-a-lockdown-album’ lockdown albums comes courtesy of main Metronomy protagonist, Joe Mount. Befittingly, it’s Metronomy’s most pastoral record for a while, a cap that fits well. In contrast to 2019’s meandering ‘Metronomy Forever’ - a solid set of bangers with perhaps one too many noodling synth interludes - ‘Small World’ is a lean, stripped-back affair. ‘Life and Death’ is a low-key opener, tackling big themes and small pleasures with characteristic optimism and playfulness, to a woozy, laid back piano. ‘Right on Time’ evokes Steely Dan, with its punchy strings, loungey vibe and close harmonies, in turn recalling fellow wonky pop ‘00s survivors, Field Music. Elsewhere, echoes of Badly Drawn Boy on ‘Things Will Be Fine’ deftly tread that line between sentimental and slushy. Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin does her best Robert Smith on ‘Hold Me Tonight’ - of course a fantastic thing. Joe’s naïve vocal delivery and habitual impression of slightly blagging it belie the dexterity and studied simplicity of his craftsmanship. He hasn’t lost his knack for a great pop hook, as demonstrated by the bubbling synths and snappy 808s on ‘It’s Good To Be Back’. It certainly is.
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