SINGLE REVIEW: Metro Station – “Love & War”

metro station 2014 love and war

Artist: Metro Station
Song: “Love & War”
Album: TBA

Roughly four years have passed since Trace Cyrus parted ways with Metro Station, but earlier this week the second most famous child of Billy Ray Cyrus announced his return to the group, and with it plans to release a new EP before the year is out. There is also a single, which stands as a firm reminder you can never go back to the way things used to be.

You may or may not have been a fan of Metro Station when they first burst onto the national stage, but I would wager almost everyone remembers trying to fight the chorus to “Shake It” from taking over their entire lives. The songs Metro Station delivered on their only full-length to date were simple and catchy, with all the fun of feeling like you could be “Seventeen Forever” forced upon you with whisper-like vocals and infectious hooks. It was the opposite of high-brow pop, but the people who bought into it could not have cared less. Everyone else – aka ‘the critics’ – thought the group stood for everything wrong with the alternative pop scene in a post-MySpace age.

Personally, I never felt compelled to say I loved or hated Metro Station. Their songs were simple and redundant; yes, but after catching the band live with Boys Like Girls, Good Charlotte, and The Maine in 2008, it became clear to me their target audience was (and continues to be) the pre-21 crowd. Their music exists in a fictional universe where all the concerns, stresses, and pressures of adulthood do not exist. It’s an oasis of hopeless romanticism, lavish parties, and poor fashion choices that offers all the depth of a puddle on a hot July day and welcomes anyone needing an escape from reality. There are good songs and bad songs, but I have always thought listeners needed to be seeking pop-laden escapism in order to fully appreciate what the band is trying to accomplish.

“Love & War,” the first single released by the group since announcing the return of Cyrus earlier this week, attempts to recapture that sense of endless joy and wonder about life while presenting a more mature version of the band. The lyrics are just as simple and disposable as ever before, but the production and song structure backing them has grown in leaps and bounds. This is due in part to the world’s embrace of EDM in recent years, which plays well with the sound Metro Station have been promoting since day one. The rest of it is, for lack of a better word, progress. Maybe not great or grand in any way, but progress nonetheless.

The real issue that arises in “Love & War” is how the verses are delivered. The part of Metro Station that loved to whisper, croon, and occasionally rap has transformed into a Ronnie Radke impersonating Tracy Cyrus obnoxiously shouting each line as if it is its own unique thought. There is very little flow or emotion, just rich kid attitude and talk of young love on the rocks. Trace was never the best at coming across sincere, but this is a new level of emptiness that simply rings false.

With Cyrus taking center stage throughout the verses it’s not hard to imagine that this song could easily bottom out early on and never recover, but thankfully the group’s other vocalist, Mason Musso, has only improved with time. His work on the chorus and bridge is what makes “Love & War” something you want to hear again and again. It’s so catchy, in fact, that you almost forget how much you did not care for Cyrus’ vocal contribution. That is, until the second verse begins.

I don’t know if it will ever be possible for Metro Station to again reach the heights of fame and celebrity they held back in 2007 and 2008, but “Love & War” is proof that even the most generic pop band can evolve in time. That doesn’t mean all change is for the better, but the good does seem to outweigh the bad. There have been far worse singles released this year, and there will no doubt be many more that debut before it is over. As long as Metro Station’s upcoming EP is on par with this single, if not better, I see no reason why they could not resume touring full time by early 2015. Heck, they may even get another record deal (though I personally think that would be a terrible idea for everyone involved).

Forget what you think you remember about Metro Station and spin “Love & War” with no pre-conceived notion of what to expect. You may find you like what you hear.

Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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