"[Paralysis] is a common feeling among musicians," Metric singer Emily Haines once told an interviewer. "You're still so disoriented from all the touring and the first thing you're meant to do when you get home is get 'inspired' and start writing your next record. For me, inspiration isn't something I sit around at Starbucks with my laptop waiting for, you know? For as long as I can remember, I have written songs because I wanted to, because I was experiencing something that couldn't be described except through a sound. God help me if that ever changes! It does mean I have to trick myself into thinking I don't care if I ever write another song again and embark on questionable endeavors, like f----g off to Buenos Aires and not knowing a single person or having any idea what I was doing or what was going to happen. Until the day we die, our lives are unwritten, which is sometimes a terrifying thought. For me, not as terrifying as feeling like everything is static though."
"Help I'm Alive" is a song loaded with visceral imagery. We might even be able to get away with re-titling it "An Ode to the Human Cardiovascular System." Keats could have totally written this... if only he'd lived long enough to hear a proper backbeat. Everything is blood and heartbeats and a racing pulse. The speaker clearly has a serious case of the butterflies, and her sympathetic nervous system is taking notice. Emily Haines says that even if her songs have a dark twist to them, it really isn't her fault. Her writing is simply a product of the world around her: "I was raised to comment on the world around me, and if it was all - you know - daffodils, there would be a lot of songs about daffodils. But, it's not, so it's not really a conscious decision to be disappointed."
Yet, aside from her overactive organs, she works through the panic, eventually coming to realize that she still does maintain control over her life:
If we're still alive
My regrets are few
If my life is mine
What shouldn't I do?
I get wherever I'm going
I get whatever I need.
This is the ultimate "take that!" statement to anybody who'd try to stand in her way. She not only admits her faults and weaknesses, but in doing so overcomes them to become ready to do whatever she wants with her life. It's the same rush of liberation we get when we pass through any major milestone in life - whether a breakup, graduation, a new job, quitting an old job, a change of scenery, or a new vocation. It's scary, uncertain, but ultimately powerful in its freedom. Of her personal songwriting style, Haines says: "Writing for me comes from a process of trying to piece things together...The function of music in my life is to help me understand what the hell is happening. This new record was about ending the fragmentation of my existence. Everything in the world right now - all the technology, the way we listen to music or watch films - everything has changed so much in my lifetime. People are allowed to have multiple identities - you're somebody online, you're somebody else in public - in multiple dimensions, scattered across the world... I wanted to bring all that into one place, one band, one record... I want to be one person."