Metronomy’s Nights Out was a refreshing oddity in the era of indie landfill
Original release: September 2008
Reissue: February 2019
Label: Because Music
The late 00s indie scene was topped off by a trilby. An era now not-so-lovingly dubbed ‘indie landfill’, cookie-cutter, Camden-based calamities flooded the airwaves and the pages of NME. Even Razorlight mouthpiece Johnny Borrell was a regular TV fixture. In this scene, Joe Mount, the man behind Metronomy, was an outlier. Bleach-white drainpipes and dodgy headwear were eschewed for an everyman aesthetic, itself a world away from the warped sounds he was creating, tucked away in his bedroom studio. Musically, Metronomy’s second album couldn’t have been further removed from the three-chord snoozers the scene was addled with.
It’s easy to forget just how odd Nights Out really was. Metronomy weren’t the first to fuse indie sensibilities with dance music’s unifying, floor-filling mantra – arguably, Hot Chip paved the way – but they were perhaps the most out-there. Popping up on student union line-ups alongside those aforementioned lot, the outside assumption was that Mount was another indie identikit. In reality, Nights Out’s opening one-two of its title track and The End of You Too flirted with the avant-garde, pulling away from the Converse-toting backbone of the scene. There were bridges, of course – the wirey guitars calls Foals’ just-released Antidotes to mind – but Metronomy’s mindset was staunchly individual.
Quipping that the record was a “half-arsed concept album about going out and having a crap time”, Mount never seemed one to follow the crowd. Metronomy’s support acts at the time saw the plonky piano-led Kate Nash of old opening proceedings one minute, before Brazilian nu-rave wünderkinds CSS exploded onto the stage soon after. It was deliberate shithousery from Mount and his bandmates (Oscar Cash and Gabriel Stebbing, who took Metronomy from the one-man-band of its debut to a collective effort on Nights Out). It was evidence of a desire to fuck with expectation, and pull the rug at every opportunity. Musically, Nights Out followed suit, recordings of squeaky doors and pitch-shifted childrens’ yelps turned into floor-filling electro.
And yet, despite all its sample-heavy silliness and deliberate obfuscation, Nights Out became a modern classic. The cardiovascular double-act of My Heart Rate Rapid and Heartbreaker were anthems more than worthy of their numerous Glastonbury billings, while the Nights Out era saw Metronomy’s live show become the late-00s’ most unmissable evening, spanning the gulf between rave culture and riotous indie shows in a way that their peers had largely failed to do. Electro soon took hold of British nightlife, both in clubs and gig venues, with Metronomy at the forefront. Leapfrogging cliche-ridden nu-rave, it gave electronic indie a much-needed dose of longevity.
To this day, Nights Out remains Metronomy’s masterstroke. Summer 08 – Metronomy’s latest album, released back in 2016 – even found Mount openly admitting to want to capture the Nights Out-fuelled naivety of its titular period. “Since that summer, I’ve not had a summer off,” he told Crack Magazine before its release. “From that point on, our lives changed into the lives of touring musicians.” It’s a seismic shift that affected not only Metronomy as a band – now one-man project, once more – but British pop as a whole.
Above all, Nights Out remains testament to boundary pushing. A deep dive into oddity and musical excess, its box of production bells and whistles could still shake up the scene 11 years on. Thank fuck for crap club nights.
Nights Out is re-released by Because Music on 8 February