Ready To Mingle

14 May 2014 | 4:30 am | Benny Doyle

"The first time you listen to this record you’re not going to be like, 'Whoa! Par-ty!'."

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Metronomy's record from earlier this year, Love Letters, has the vibe of a Wes Anderson film. The instrumentation is awkward, the lyrics politely passive, and the overall quirkiness of songs like Love Letters and Reservoir paint the sort of pictures that would probably be shared between Margot and Richie Tenenbaum.

But don't go thinking these Love Letters of Metronomy's are being sent out into the world from a literal place. Mount clarifies. “I'm not the kind of person that is trying to be a confessional songwriter or anything like that. I take ideas from my life but there's a point where it becomes a fantasy. It wouldn't be a very nice thing to do to my girlfriend, I don't reckon, to get into the nitty gritty of things.”

Rather than working for the immediate gratification of others, Mount has made a record that not so much forces people to work for their joys, but more so encourages listeners to hang around and see where the experience takes them.

“The first time you listen to this record you're not going to be like, 'Whoa! Par-ty!',” laughs the 31-year-old. “But if there's something about it you like, even if that's a tiny something, if you keep going back to it it'll get more and more rewarding.”

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The Brit goes on to call Metronomy's fourth full-length a body of work which is “part of this bigger picture”, but also a record that, on another level, simply reflects where he was at while writing and recording. “This one definitely is the most precise record I've made – I feel like the songwriting is refined,” Mount says. “But with each record I definitely feel like I'm getting closer to distilling, or bottling, the essence of Metronomy.”

Now a fully formed four-piece – the current state of a gradual evolution which began in Mount's Devon bedroom, shifted to London in trio form before growing into a four-piece based between London and Paris – Metronomy cut Love Letters in the English capital at Toe Rag Studios, a space that looks more vintage science laboratory than high-tech studio for the stars. It's an analogue fetishist's wet dream, and a place where Mount was really able to shape the classic sound of the record.

“When you're [recording to] tape and you do little things with it, you realise how so many modern effects basically come from people just screwing around with tape,” he remarks. “And just having this physical thing makes you look at [the recording process] differently.

“I wanted to make myself learn something, and to record like that is a real shock to the system. It's just a challenge, and I feel happy now to go and spend two years touring the record because when I was making it I sort of gave myself a mental workout... but I'm alright now.”

And it's that sense of wonderment when making an LP which is most exciting for Mount. “I really like being able to get ideas out of my head onto a record,” he says. “Being able to make something out of nothing, I'm really into that, and how you can start a day with nothing and finish with a song that never existed. And I don't have that instant gratification in anything else that I do; I'm not a sculptor or a painter. It's the only thing that I get that sense of achievement from.”

Visiting for Splendour In The Grass, Metronomy will tie their starkly different recordings together – the bedroom electro of Pip Paine... (2006), the nerdtronica across Nights Out (2008) and the tropical yacht rock of 2011's Mercury-nominated The English Riviera – with an entirely giving live show. Mount calls it “an opportunity to show how they do all come from the same place”.

“It makes more sense when you're seeing those tracks mingling with one another in a set than it would if you were just listening to them all in a mix,” he reasons. “I feel like the live show has really hit a point, and I'm just very proud of it at the moment. There's something about having that back catalogue, that wealth of material that you can draw on, [which makes it] feel like a complete thing – we're having a lot of fun with it at the moment.”