Last year as the early singles for a new Metric album began rolling out, one thing became clear: Art Of Doubt was packed with the same dark, shimmering rock that made their 2009 record, Fantasies, a surging breakout album for the Canadian rockers. Emily Haines, the formidable and seemingly fearless leader of the band, was a woman ahead of her time ten years ago, seamlessly weaving tongue-in-cheek references to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones into a searing brand of rock that felt brand new, while always unabashedly leaning into her own femininity, and writing songs that crackled with the undeniable tensions of lived female experiences.
Taking periodic breaks from the no-holds-barred rock of Metric to release quieter, softer solo projects as Soft Skeleton, her commitment to the group stayed strong, even as her solo projects met with increasing critical acclaim. So, it’s hard to call Art Of Doubt a return to form, considering Metric released two well-received full-length albums since then — 2012’s Synthetica and 2015’s Pagans In Vegas — but it does seem to have recaptured some of the fiery, cutting edge style that catapulted them to the forefront of the rock conversation a decade ago.
Ten years later, after the conversation about rock has waxed, waned, and begun to shift into a new, post-hip-hop era, Metric are leading the charge once again. Art Of Doubt was one of the best albums released in 2018, touching on all the issues leading up to and surrounding the #MeToo movement, and even if it didn’t gain the kind of attention that releases of its caliber in rap and pop easily earned, that only speaks to the way that zeitgeist and commercial forces have shifted. But if rock is now to be seen as more of a subgenre, then perhaps that allows fans to let their attention laser in on the acts who still unequivocally deserve it.
For a band to have the kind of longevity that Metric does, and to be able to recapture the magic of an early, breakout record several albums down the line, says a lot about their internal chemistry. And despite the power of the unit, it’s still Haines who stands at the center of that hurricane, passionately delivering lyrics from the eye of the storm, then stepping out into the swirling madness herself when necessary. Right before releasing their brand new album, Metric went on tour opening for Smashing Pumpkins, a formidable task that they tackled with grace. Since this latest album came out in late September of 2018, they’ve embarked on their own headlining tour, which stops in Los Angeles tonight at the Palladium.
Ahead of tonight’s show, I spoke with Haines about how Art Of Doubt brought the band full circle, her own experiences with Soft Skeleton, and writing songs that feel like they become prophecies.
I’m a huge Metric fan, and have been for a while, but it really started for me in 2009 when Fantasies came out. Art Of Doubt is your first album since then to remind me of how I felt listening to those old songs and pull me back to those roots. On your side, is that something that you were feeling in this music and band chemistry, too? Was there something special about this release that felt like a return to form in some way?