Week 155: “The Police and the Private” by Metric


Not only is Metric one of my favourite Canadian bands, but they might be the most Canadian band in the world. Metric is everything Canadians like to think of themselves as being: multicultural, hard-working, intellectual, under-appreciated.  And of course, there’s the name. Metric.

The metric system of measurement has been used by almost every country in the world since France invented it in the early 1800s. Every country, that is, except for the United States and the United Kingdom, who have stubbornly held on to the imperial system like a child who refuses to throw out his ratty, smelly teddy bear. Officially, both countries have accepted the metric system, but in day-to-day life almost everything is imperial.

Because of Canada’s combined French/British background, and its BFF status with the United States, we have adopted a typically Canadian position on the imperial vs. metric debate. And that is, of course, firmly on the fence.

Ask a Canadian how tall they are and they will tell you in feet and inches. But look at their driver’s license and their height will be listed metrically. Ask them how far it is to their cottage and they’ll tell you in kilometres, but ask them how big their cottage is and they’ll tell you in square feet. They buy milk by the litre, but beer by the pint.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Metric (the band) has been fully embraced in Canada, and like the metric system itself, they’ve begun to pick up some recognition all over the world. They may not have reached the level of US success that most Canadian bands covet for some reason, but maybe that’s for the best. And maybe, given their name, that’s what they wanted.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The synth. Just a hint of UK new-wave influence.

2. The accordion that pokes its head out at 1:41. Just a hint of French folk influence.

3. Emily Haines’ voice. I love its strength and its raspiness. Haines, by the way, was born just months after the metric system was officially adopted in Canada.

Recommended listening activity:

Pairing any type of food with maple syrup.

Buy it here.