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For The First Time In A Decade, Metric's Emily Haines Goes Solo

In Metric, singer-songwriter Emily Haines presides over dark dance-pop, lending even the most upbeat arrangement an undercurrent of tormented melancholy. So it's no surprise that the two records she recorded as Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton — 2006's Knives Don't Have Your Back and the 2007 EP What Is Free To A Good Home? — weather down the fizz, while turning the tormented melancholy way, way up.

Fortunately, Haines' solo work is also enormously tuneful: Even a grimly paced song like "Our Hell," with its chorus of "Our hell is a good life," doubles as a sneaky earworm. Now, Haines is poised to dip back in the solo well with Choir Of The Mind, due out this fall. The new album, like its predecessors, draws on dark times and major life changes for inspiration.

Choir Of The Mind's first single, "Fatal Gift," actually reworks and intensifies a recent Metric B-side. Its video breaks the song into distinct and subtitled phases: "The Gift," in which Haines sings sweetly over a plaintive piano; "Wages," which pulsates ominously amid warnings that "The things they own, they own you"; and "Blindfold," in which a dreamy interlude gives way to the tense, portentous climax of "The Deal." It seems to suggest a new musical direction for Haines — one located somewhere between the solemnity of her first solo albums and the dance-floor-friendly energy of Metric. September can't come soon enough.

Choir Of The Mindcomes out Sept. 15 via Last Gang/eOne.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)