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“If it wasn’t for your kindness, I think I might be dead,” sings Emily Haines on the closing track off Metric’s most recent album, Art Of Doubt, “If it wasn’t for your kindness lately, I’d never get out of bed.” This final song is called “No Lights On The Horizon” and lulls into a softer, sweeter sentiment than the rest of a raging seventh record from her band. The lyrics, and the sentiment of the song echo messages that women across the country are sending each other, barely able to continue functioning under the weight of misogyny that’s currently beaming down, not just in the news cycle lately, but quite literally from the highest offices in the land.
Most of us have one safe harbor, at least, one anchor, if we’re lucky. We seek solace in each other and trusted individuals while the men who run the world debate the worth of our experiences of sexual violence at their hands (one in six women has experienced attempted or completed rape). Amid all the outcry against these hard truths, this song is a small moment of remembrance, a thankfulness for those who show up to remind us of light, even if our world stays dark. It’s a resignation after a storm, not a white flag or a victory cry, just a hymn of exhaustion, and thankfulness for what sustained us until now: Kindness.
The song comes after a wave of sprawling, sharp and searing synth-pop songs on the album more communicative of outright anger and disappointment. Yes, Art Of Doubt is a seething, feminine rock record for a time of rage, as Haines confirmed when discussing the album during the recording process. “Things are so crass, and I think that’s when people really feel like they need the nuance of art and music,” Haines said in a recent interview. “A lot of the thread of this record has been looking at what femininity is, not only as a woman, but also looking on the whole spectrum of gender as people explore where they fall within that, and what our assumptions and associations and ways that we characterize femininity and weakness and our fear of power as women and people, and people’s fear of female power, all of those things are interconnected.”
For a band that has lately called themselves “emotionally primitive,” in 2018, Metric sound especially evolved. But perhaps there wasn’t room for the ethos of a band like this to be heard and properly celebrated until a social and political climate like the one we’re immersed in now. Hearing her say those words, “fear of female power,” without flinching was a fitting reminder that Haines’ experience of this comes firsthand. They’ve said just about everything possible about Emily Haines. It’s hard to read old Metric album reviews, have you tried?
“I want to like Metric, I really do,” begins a 2005 Pitchfork review of their second record, Live It Out, wherein the reviewer goes on to dub Haines a “quaint little-girl-lost indie savant” and skewers the band’s “blunt liberal leanings” and “silly experimental excesses,” while the site’s next review chided the band for “jockeying for visibility” and dismissed their “bloat and clutter.”