Metric - Fantasies (Metric Music International) True story: an indie boy of my acquaintance moved to Toronto earlier this year just to be in the same city as Metric's Emily Haines.
This, the band's fourth album, should, by rights, elevate Metric to a new level of recognition. Its 10 songs run the gamut from smart electro-rock to blissed-out indie. Amid chiming guitars and multi-tracked vocals Gold Guns Girls showcases Haines's way with a pop melody. The synth-led Gimme Sympathy is a sonic delight as she inquires, “Who'd you rather be — the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” Twilight Galaxy may offer some banal lyrics, but its moody synth line is so utterly compelling it doesn't matter.
Burn it: Gold Guns Girls
Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It (Columbia)
Raphael Saadiq has spent most of his career working behind the desk, helping others discover a mojo for soul. As an artist in his own right, the Californian channels the spirit of Motown far more successfully than most of his contemporaries have managed. The Way I See It is largely devoid of filler and evokes soul's golden age without sounding slavish.
One of the stand-outs, Big Easy takes classic New Orleans brass and uses it to accentuate the song's inherent sadness, as Saadiq sings: “They say them levees broke, and my baby's gone.”
There are plenty of guests — most notably Stevie Wonder and the up-and-coming CJ Hilton on the rousing Never Give You Up.
Burn it: Never Give You Up
The Maccabees - Wall of Arms (Fiction)
The Brighton-based Londoners seemed like yet another bunch of indie also-rans when their modest debut album, Colour It In, was released two years ago. This follow-up, however, rips up the template and starts again — it's an adventurous set full of intriguing lyrics and passionate delivery from frontman Orlando Weeks. Production comes courtesy of Markus Dravs, who co-produced (with Brian Eno) Coldplay's latest, but also, more crucially, helmed Arcade Fire's Neon Bible. This lot clearly want to be seen as England's answer to Arcade Fire. That's very much apparent on the title track, replete with a brass section. There's a defiantly epic quality to the album — the sound of a band going for broke. No Kind Words takes on U2 at their own stadium-rock game and wins. The guitars are exhilarating — a feature common to several songs here. In fact, it may just be the most striking English guitar album since British Sea Power's Do You Like Rock Music?
Burn it: Wall of Arms; Dinosaurs