With the seventh album of a subtly successful career still warm on the shelves, wistful Devonian synth-indie sorts Metronomy are taking it on tour. A Cardiff stop off was the prompt for Carl Marsh to talk to bandleader Joe Mount.
New Metronomy album Small World marks more of a mature sound for the band, to my ears – if that’s not too offensive a suggestion!
[Laughs] No! You know, I wanted to make something a bit more kind of grown-up, but as I get to that point in my career where this will be my seventh record, and I’m going to be 40 later in the year, I feel like I need to… well, not need to, but I want to develop a bit as I get older. I thought that being a bit more open, more convenient, was quite a nice way of starting the following stages.
On some level did having kids maybe motivate you to write an album of this nature?
Well, my kids are quite old… not old, but my oldest will be nine this year. So it’s not a new thing. But pop songwriting, it’s about meeting someone, or having your heart broken – and for me now, all of that stuff is so old as I’ve been with the same person now for 11 years. You realise that life is different now, I guess.
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One of Small World’s songs, It’s Good To Be Back, is based around the scenario of the kids being in the back of the car – and instead of moaning about “old people’s music” they’re nodding along to one of their parents’ songs…
That’s exactly something that I’ve realised, as I have these vivid memories of hearing music, in my parents’ car – them playing a tape or whatever – and by and large disliking it. But there would always be one or two songs. And I suddenly realise – oh, I quite like this one.
Which is almost how a lot of the young people are going to start hearing our music. It’ll be their parents playing it – it won’t necessarily be them. So, I like the idea of imagining a particular song as a bit more… fun!
So what did your parents play on those tapes in the car when you were a kid, do you remember?
I remember a few really well. They had things like The Pretenders, the Get Close album. And there was 10,000 Maniacs. Then other stuff like Leonard Cohen… and Simply Red.
Quite varied! Speaking of your parents, they were again involved with the new album’s photos and design, something that was also a feature of the band’s early releases. What brought them back to the Metronomy fold?
I think what I realised these past couple of years is that when we were in lockdown mode, the only people I really cared about seeing – and no offence to anyone else – were my family. I was more desperate to see my parents than I was to see my friends. And that’s because you know your friends will probably be fine.
It’s realising that if you’re lucky enough to have a family you like, that’s the most important thing. Because they’ve always been very supportive of what I do, and they helped a lot when I was younger, it felt like a nice reciprocal thing: a show of respect.
In my opinion, this is the best-looking album that I’ve done. And when you see the physical thing, it shows you how good they are at what they do.
Metronomy, Tramshed, Cardiff, Sun 1 May. Tickets: £24. Info: here
words CARL MARSH
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