Metronomy interview: ‘Pop has always been about fancying people’

‘Love Letters’ isn’t just the title of Metronomy’s new album. It’s how main man Joe Mount blows girls’ minds, as we find out

On the day we meet, Joe Mount’s horoscope, according to my copy of Take a Break magazine, reads as follows: ‘Cosmic energy is surging through you right now. This is no time to hide your light under a bushel.’

Why have I gone all Mystic Meg on him? It’s his fault. ‘I’m Aquarius’, the breathtaking first single from Metronomy’s latest album ‘Love Letters’, is the tale of a break-up dictated by the stars. It’s an astrological twist on a subject Metronomy deal in exquisitely.

Since emerging in 2006, Mount’s songs have habitually revolved around lightning bolt crushes, unrequited love pangs and romances in peril. Set to disco-pleasing indie and almost bubblegum pop, hits like ‘The Bay’, ‘A Thing for Me’ and ‘The Look’ have made his band one of the most adored groups in Britain – a triumph not diminished by Mount’s relocation to Paris, nor his recent fatherhood. Metronomy’s fourth album ‘Love Letters’ is a gem – but is he really a man of letters?

‘I wanted the record to have a ’60s feel to it… getting loose and talking about the cosmos.’

What made you write about horoscopes?
‘There’s supposedly something a bit sexy and cosmic about them, isn’t there? It’s obviously a load of rubbish, but I like how they’ve been used by people to convey a certain mystical quality. I guess I wanted to write lyrics that were a bit more... fancy. Horoscopes use words like “ascending” – it’s all a bit like faux-poetry. I could do more. I could do one for each horoscope, maybe?’

That cosmic naivity fits in with some of the album’s more ’60s-ish sounds.
‘Yeah definitely, it’s got that ’60s quaintness about it – like the musical “Hair”. People were getting loose and talking about the cosmos. It’s quite charming, really. I knew I wanted the record to have a ’60s feel to it. I was just listening to that kind of stuff with a bit more purpose than previously.’

Why do affairs of the heart always leap out in your songs?
‘I guess the most obvious thing is to write songs about girls, no? Pop music has always been about fancying people, you know, snogging and stuff like that. I would like to expand my repertoire. I tried it with star signs, but it turns out star signs are just about the same thing, you know?’

But is it awkward to write about wobbly love affairs when you’re in a stable relationship?
‘I guess the things that I write about all the time are old emotions or experiences that I’ve had. It sort of happens accidentally. If people really read into the songs, which I guess they do, they might think that I’m not especially happy-go-lucky. But I’m very relaxed, very contented.’

‘If you think about something nice, even for a split second, act on it.’

Don’t you think the idea of love letters is a little quaint?
‘I honestly hadn’t thought that it was an old-fashioned idea! Maybe that shows how out of touch I am. Every relationship that I’ve been in has involved letters of some kind. Seriously though, do you think people don’t send them anymore?’

Well, I’d imagine Facebook has put a dampener on it...
‘But don’t teenage boys know they can blow a girl’s mind by sending a really nice letter?’

Nice how?
‘Imagine if you were at school and you went to the effort of finding a girl’s address, and out of the blue leaving a nice note. It would just make that girl feel like crazy. I’m genuinely, genuinely serious, though: it would be such a shame if teenagers didn’t know that feeling of receiving something so personal that you have to hide from your sister or brother just to read it.’

Are you man enough to admit that you’re romantic?
‘Maybe. I’ve got a new philosophy that I’m trying to live to: if you think about something nice, even for a split second – nice like calling your mum or thinking about buying a gift for someone – act on it. If you don’t do it, it’s kind of cruel because the thought’s already crossed your mind. And that’s kind of my new attitude.’

Love Letters’ is out now.

Watch Metronomy's 'Love Letters' video

Read our review of 'Love Letters'

  • Rated as: 4/5

Broken hearts and killer tunes make for a triumphant, offbeat pop album…

Read the full album review

Listen to 'Love Letters'

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