Synth-Pop Nostalgia

February 22, 2023
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I have a vivid memory of an interaction with a friend of mine in my first year of high school. It was late in the fall right after school. A bunch of us were standing around outside of the north building, talking at length about nothing, like only teenagers can. We got to talking about new music and did our best to impress one another with artists that the other kids hadn’t heard of yet. This one friend regularly humbled us by citing little-known bands that 14-year-olds should have had no way of knowing (especially before social media was a thing). On this particular day he mentioned a new love for a band called Metric. They’d released their first studio album a few months earlier, and he had it on heavy rotation.

I remember being excited about his excitement. I rushed home to find a listenable version of the album on Limewire (if you know you know). The version I could find was incomplete, and the quality wasn’t the best, but it was good enough to get a taste of what he was going on about. The album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Know? is an early-2000s synth-pop paradise. I listened to the crappy bootlegged version for a few months, committing every song to memory. On my birthday a few months later, the same friend brought me a copy of the CD to my locker as a gift. I was hooked.

Looking back on it with adult eyes, it makes perfect sense that this album would appeal to a teenage audience. It’s moody and a little all over the place. It explores a range of topics, from social status and the US government’s political agenda; to the traps of fame and navigating romantic relationships. Because of its lyrical range, it doesn’t sound like a terribly cohesive piece of work, but instead, like a series of singles. Being a teenager felt a lot like this –  moody and only kinda, sorta connected.

Since then, Metric has gone on to release a number of other albums. Old World Underground, Where Are You Know? holds a version special place in my heart, though the following albums are also enjoyable (Grow Up and Blow Away and Synthetica are two of my personal favourites).


Listening to the album this many years later, I’m transported back to the antics and the laughter with friends during that time in my life. I can sing every line from every song to this day, and find the album comforting. I have no idea where this high school friend ended up, but wherever he’s found himself in the world, I send my most sincere thank you for the introduction.

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