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Metric kicks off Doomscroller tour in Victoria Thursday and Friday

Toronto rockers tackle post-pandemic malaise in new album, Formentera, released in early July

LIVE MUSIC: Metric with Dear Rouge

Where: Royal Theatre

When: Thursday and Friday, Aug. 11-12, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $48.25-$91.25 from rmts.bc.ca or 250-386-6121

Metric released its eighth full-length album, Formentera, in early July, when the arts and culture community was finding its feet after two tumultuous years.

Released at a time when most on the planet were eager to look forward, the album served as a prescient reminder: Live each day as your last.

“[T]hat isn’t going anywhere, that feeling of … powerlessness,” frontperson and primary lyricist Emily Haines told Paste magazine in a recent interview. “But it’s all within the scope of what you can control, and what you can have an impact on.”

She sings about xenophobes and the ruling class on Formentera, and with song titles such as Doomscroller, All Comes Crashing, What Feels Like Eternity, Enemies of the Ocean, and False Dichotomy, it would appear that Haines and her bandmates struggled throughout the pandemic. But they found ways of coping. Guitarist Jimmy Shaw hunkered down in his new Toronto studio, while Haines found solace in the natural oasis of her rural Ontario property.

“The city was really grim and frightening,” she told Paste. “So I was in nature as much as I could be, and then I did feel, though, like I was getting squirrelly as hell, so going back to New York was a real kind of key reset. I went back for Hal Willner’s funeral, which was two years after, because he passed away from COVID the same day as John Prine during the pandemic. And I have such a long relationship with the city, and he and Lou [Reed] were the keys to my adult life in New York, and my creative life. And now they’re both dead. But it felt really good to be back in New York, because New York will always bounce back.”

Metric’s tour to support the new album gets underway in Victoria tonight, with the first of two shows at the Royal Theatre. Those are followed by 14 others across Canada, and 26 in the United States. Band members Haines, Shaw, Joshua Winstead, and Joules Scott-Key arrived in Victoria Tuesday, to rehearse for the Doomscroller Tour, but were unavailable for interviews as the tour opener approached.

Haines was full of insightful comment when Formentera was released, however, and said in a statement when the album was released how she fought to keep the pandemic from dominating the recording’s lyrical integrity. She pointed to All Comes Crashing as an example of a love song “that goes beyond romantic love,” suggesting that its hopeful nature was a way forward for us all.

“It’s an expression of solidarity with whoever it is you would want to have beside you in the event of catastrophe. It might be your best friend, it might be your blood brother or your dog. The song is dedicated to those you consider your family, whatever that looks like for you.”

Metric remains one of Canada’s top touring and recording acts, with nine Juno Award nominations to their credit. The band last won one in 2013, when Synthetica took home the alternative album of the year trophy, but they scored group of the year nods in 2016 and 2019, putting them comfortably in the conversation as one of the rock and pop acts of its era. Their catalogue of songs is such at that Metric issued Greatest Hits Vol. 1 last year, chronicling the band’s evolution from early rock singles Combat Baby and Dead Disco to the ’80s electro-pop of Now or Never Now, from 2018’s Art of Doubt.

Haines addressed the polarity of Metric’s music in a statement around the time of Formentera’s release, and suggested its then-upcoming tour — which is now directly upon us — would be something special.

“We’re crafting a set list based on fan favourites including deep cuts from [albums] Live It Out and Old World, and it’s been wild to see how the new songs from Formentera flow with the classics from [albums] Fantasies and Synthetica,” she said.

“I want Metric fans to have the best concert experience possible and feel like they got to escape into another reality with us for the evening.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com