Appliance coolly navigate a wide range of musical influences on Imperial Metric, from Neu! to Joy Division to the Velvet Underground, and yet they've made a remarkably cohesive album. Like Tarwater's Silur, the album maintains a subtle afterhours tone, where James Brooks' vocals blend in with spacy electronics and organic guitars. It's music for late-night relaxation and thoughtful introspection with lyrics that only occasionally give tips toward the ironic underpinnings. "H20" is vivid and compelling, as Brooks sings that the "H20 in (his) head is running out...running low" over a slowly percolating, bubbly beat and wobbly sampled sounds. "A Gentle Cycle Revolution" sounds like Spiritualized as fronted by Lou Reed, as Brooks name checks "Robin Hood and Perestroika" and sings poetically about blind hope and world destruction. "A Little More Information" is clearly inspired by Joy Division's "Twenty-Four Hours," though the band approaches the melody with a Kraftwerk-meets-modern-jazz swagger. "Map of the Territory" seems to marry Depeche Mode-style synth pop with a clicks + cuts mentality. Ultimately, Brooks and company display equal musical ability and knowledge of their influences in crafting these 12 somber, sometimes stoically optimistic songs. Imperial Metric might not be a masterwork, but it sees Appliance making deceptively complex, melodic, and timeless mood music.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina