Metronomy – review

Old Market, Brighton
The band makes a euphoric homecoming loaded with new material that twitches and percolates like nu-rave Sly Stone

When Metronomy transformed themselves from the South Coast version of Hot Chip – all eccentric glitch'n'roll – to a 70s-referencing pop band, everything started to click. Their 2011 album The English Riviera received a Mercury prize nomination and their highest chart position to date; the build-up to this spring's new one, Love Letters, has included a video directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Michel Gondry.

This first show in 18 months is as much a euphoric homecoming – three of the quartet have Brighton links – as it is a road test for Love Letters, which is unfurled nearly in full. It's a measure of the crowd's affection that leader Joseph Mount's apology for loading the show with unfamiliar material is greeted with indulgent yelps. But the yelps are off-the-scale piercing for favourites such as Heartbreaker and Radio Ladio (both from 2008's pre-fame Nights Out), which twitch and percolate like nu-rave Sly Stone. At these moments, Mount undeniably has the funk, but it's an endearingly English kind – pigmented with a pinched (but effective) falsetto and apologies for his bongo-playing skills.

Visually, Metronomy could have been assembled from four different bands: bassist Gbenga Adelekan is tall and elegant, keyboardist Oscar Cash an elfin indie moptop and drummer Anna Prior could be a lost Haim, whereas Mount is dressed for the office, in blazer and white shirt. Further confusing things are Prior's drums which, embedded with flashing lights, could have been donated by a wedding-party DJ. In tandem, though, they're a seamless organism who incorporate prog, dream-pop and, on the new Never Wanted, an unexpected bash at Tom Odell-esque balladry. On the previously unheard instrumental Boy Racers, which is destined for heavy rotation in hipster coffee shops, they daringly reclaim the sound of 70s TV incidental music. It's an intriguing mix, offering almost too much to absorb – but Metronomy absolutely have a way about them.

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #Iwasthere


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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