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Metric

Frontwoman Emily Haines’ first words on Metric’s latest LP go, “I’m just as fucked up as they say,” and while that may be hyperbole, it’s the group’s quirky-yet-catchy approach to newer-wave that has set them apart from the social scene they came up with. Earlier this year, they released the well-received Synthetica, and despite containing their slickest production yet, their slightly off-kilter approach to musical hooks makes the sleekly synthetic sheen work. It’s not so much “fucked up” as delightfully askew. With Half Moon Run.

Sun., Sept. 23, 8 p.m., 2012

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Keren Ann

101, Keren Ann’s new record, won’t be released domestically until spring, but the NY-via-Paris-via-Tel Aviv singer/songwriter is doing a round of local shows anyway. That’s just what purveyors of sophisticated new singles such as “My Name Is Trouble” do. She sings its title, and then its killer second line (“My first name’s a mess”), and then the track’s sleek basement lounge keys kick in–sounding a bit like Metric, with less of a chip on her shoulder–and you know she’s only gotten cooler since the last time around. Jeez, some people just know how to work it.

Wed., Dec. 8, 9:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 9, 9:30 p.m., 2010

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JURASSIC ROCK

“We wanted to open our imagination up, and you want the biggest space to do that,” Metric guitarist Jimmy Shaw told the Voice last year, upon the release of the Toronto/Brooklyn group’s third album. “A main image we had while making the record was of a pterodactyl coming out of its shell, sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, ready to take its first flight.” And he was serious, so good for him. The grandiose production on Fantasies was a logical yet enthralling step up from their ebullient dance-rock debut, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003), and the more chaotic Live It Out (2005). Even while frontwoman Emily Haines crooned about stage fright, she’d never sounded more regal; clearly, the Jurassic inspiration works wonders. Part of the Celebrate Brooklyn! festival.

Thu., Aug. 5, 7 p.m., 2010

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Metric+Bear In Heaven

Although Metric will be stopping through New York area in August on the Lilith Fair(!), their performance tonight at 3,000-capacity Terminal 5 will likely be more intimate on every count. The Canadian indie-rock group’s most recent album, Fantasies, contains so many skittery, layered nuances that the PNC Bank Arts Center may swallow them whole during Lilith. The album’s single “Help I’m Alive” will take on a whole new meaning. Openers Bear in Heaven play moody, textured psych-rock that’s even more echoey than the headliners’.

Sun., May 16, 8 p.m., 2010

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Canadian Mopehead Makes Banality Sexy

It was always clear, somehow, that Metric’s Emily Haines was more than a pretty voice backstroking through Broken Social Scene’s guitar swirl. Clearer now is that she’s also more than a Canadian indie-rock femme fatale mugging for cultural capital with slick hooks and faux misanthropy. On this more intimate solo album, Haines’s musical accompaniment is spectral and emaciated— everything except her piano billows around the pleasant remoteness of her vocals like stale smoke.

That minimalism reveals what distinguishes her from scores of other mopeheads. Like Thom Yorke, she’s capable of being both bitterly cynical and sentimentally optimistic (“Our hell is a good life,” she sings blithely), which is tricky. Furthermore, her facility with melody and words reveals that she’s a poet by nature but doesn’t exude any self-aggrandizing obsession with sounding poetic. In fact, most of her best moments derive from the fact that she’s really, really good at writing about banalities. Artists like Haines and Jeff Tweedy seem to have come to the same conclusion about coping with accelerated culture that online porn moguls—always more sophisticated in these matters—came to about a decade ago: In a world that’s been saturated by fantasies, the last vestiges of romance and perversity lie in a kind of heightened normalcy. Stripped of their cosmetics, some tunes on Knives Don’t Have Your Back seem underdeveloped, but they prove what always needs to be proved in the vortex of postmodern pop—that an artist like Haines can do more than hide behind her influences. It’s refreshing, not having to disdain someone this unabashedly hip.