Songs about death and grey skies aren’t usually synonymous with Metric or Emily Haines, but 2001’s Grow Up and Blow Away is exactly those things. Ranging from the summery, echoing tales in “London Halflife” (included on this re-release), to the almost-operatic tune “Soft Rock Star,” Metric’s long-shelved debut album is a far cry from the heavy riffs in “Monster Hospital,” or the experimental electro-pop on “Dead Disco”-–so much so that Haines chose to deny it even existed, as Metric’s sound changed over the years. But with the international success of Haines’s solo album, Knives Don’t Have Your Back, and new interest from die-hard fans, the band has been rewarding fans for their new-found intrigue by playing songs from the album live. Last Gang Records released this lost album as Metric prepares for the release of their fourth album, slated for the fall.
Grow Up and Blow Away starts off with the bleak title track, featuring only the two original members, Haines and guitarist James Shaw (bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key had not yet been added), allowing the duo to experiment with electronics without the thumping basslines and prog-rock drumming they now have. “On The Sly” is an artsy plea for acceptance, not dissimilar to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s signature sound; a cleverly-inserted guitar solo distances this song from the more 60s-influenced ‘summer of love’ feel that other songs on the album incorporate.
“Soft Rock Star” is sung in a very low key throughout. While that tune is hummable, perhaps the song may have worked better with Haines singing normally. “Raw Sugar” is possibly the danciest, most vibrant song on the whole album, with a beginning almost identical to Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” On this track, layers of Haines’s voice and simple piano crash the song progressively. “London Halflife” talks about Haines’s desire to get over her mid-life crisis, and the sombre, almost distant vocals compliment this song perfectly; it is a lonesome track full of regret and disdain at being beaten down by life.
There are a couple of other tracks that were originally intended to be on the album, but were withdrawn on the re-release. “Parkdale,” which used plentiful horns and a Deborah Harry-esque rap in a sea of mild dub/reggae, perhaps should have been kept on the album, because it is a far cry from the tub-thumping electro-thrash Metric now plays.
Despite these exclusions, it’s still obvious why so many of the loyal fanatics of the band have been lobbying for the long-awaited re-release of this album.