Metric was formed in 1998, the brainchild of vocalist Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw. Their first album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003) was an alternative rock record fueled by electric guitar and plenty of angst.
Over the last twelve years, however, Metric has been slowly moving toward an electronic pop-rock sound.
Metric has featured electronically inclined songs since their first album, slowly expanding into an almost even split of guitar-and synth-driven songs in their 2012 album, Synthetica.
Pagans marks a complete electronic takeover. In Metric’s other albums, the synth serves to accent the guitars.
Pagans shows an instrumental role reversal, using the occasional guitar to accent the electronic base.
This change doesn’t detriment the album’s diversity.
Pagans features beat-heavy dance tracks like Cascades and leading single The Shade.
It also doesn’t shy away from contemplative songs like For Kicks and Other Side, the latter a rare duet between Haines and Shaw.
Outside of the instrumentals, Pagans in Vegas is the Metric that fans know and love.
Lyrically, this is one of Haines’s most introspective albums yet. Songs deal with typical fare: love and loss, feeling out of place in the modern world, and the perversion of the media.
Despite the usual topics, Pagans places its emphasis on personal feelings and personal failures.
Lines like “Why’d I have to be such trouble to please?” and “The worst was all for me, not hurting anyone” show a side of Haines that isn’t as often seen in Metric’s more aggressively political albums.
Haines’s vocals are as competent as ever, fully utilizing her wide vocal range.
High-energy tracks like Too Bad, So Sad feature her voice soaring in choruses.
Slower tracks like The Governess showcase Haines’s lower range, emphasizing her lyrics over her vocal prowess.
New listeners will find that Pagans in Vegas is a very personal album that simultaneously makes listeners want to dance to the beat and sit down to decipher the themes.
Fans of bands like CHVRCHES and Passion Pit will be comfortable with the dance beats and find depth in the especially personal lyrics.
The emphasis on synthesizers may be jarring to seasoned Metric fans who are accustomed to loud electric guitars and strong anti-establishment themes.
There’s plenty to experience, though, for one willing to look past the beeps and boops to take another plunge into Haines’s mind.