In an effort to prove Metric frontwoman Emily Haines was not the only dominating personality behind the Canadian indie rock group's first album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, the second album hammers home the fact that it's more of a group effort. Production duties were handed to guitarist James Shaw and Haines' trademark synths take a back seat to screeching guitars and more cohesive playing as a quartet. Despite the added punk rock punch the guitar gives, the bite of their debut is dulled by a weaker set of songs, with only minor aesthetic changes to mask the slight sophomoric slump. Live It Out desires to be a major step forward (Emily Haines would release her first solo album, Knives Don't Have Your Back, a year later), but the best moments on the album are the ones that recapture what made the debut such a compelling piece of '80s retro -- showcasing Haines' trademark keyboards and her effective cooing vocals, which manage to sound both cloyingly sexy and gutturally raw at the same time. "Poster of a Girl" transforms a few rudimentary French lyrics and an unassuming keyboard intro into a spacy, groovy dance track. "The Police and the Private" is an effectively simple and haunting keyboard-heavy song that shows Haines' best vocal performances are the down to earth ones (something she thankfully discovered on her solo album). As with Old World Underground, Haines has a tendency for collegiate-level prose when the band gets political, and songs like the "Combat Baby" knockoff "Handshakes" have a smug, elitist attitude about them, without providing much insight into their political beliefs. The first single, the hooky "Monster Hospital," is a light-hearted punk song with great non-sequitur lyrics, but the overdubbed guitars and big production typically reserved for an alternative rock album don't fight the overall motif of Live It Out. There's a reason Haines was featured on the cover of Old World Underground and it's possibly this: she's what separates Metric from other '80s revivalist groups.
AllMusic Review by Erik Leijon