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The Subways - All Or Nothing

The Subways, All Or Nothing

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE Subways have taken a while to get their act together and deliver a sophomore effort to 2005’s Young For Eternity but the wait appears to have been worth it.

In rock terms, this is a no-nonsense barnstomer that seeks nothing more than to make the ground shudder beneath you.

Produced in LA with the help of alt-rock supremo Butch Vig (Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkins), the heavier, more focused sound is evident from the opening riffs of Girls & Boys. A melodic riff sets things in motion, before some grungy power chords emphatically blow the cobwebs from any speakers and Billy Lunn and female sidekick Charlotte Cooper exchange vocals in a style not dissimilar from classic Ash.

Kalifornia emphasises the newfound American vibe, crunching its way through more meaty riffs that alt-rock legends such as Smashing Pumpkins would be proud to call their own, but also underpinning them with some pleasing vocal harmonising and some lush acoustics. It makes for a heady blend, but you can’t help feeling a little excited.

Former single Alright then underlines the slightly retro focus of things, emerging as a confident blend of Ash and Feeder that really should have made a bigger impression upon UK listeners upon its release. The song is positively dripping with sun-drenched vocal harmonies, lively guitar riffs and an infectious energy that’s difficult not to become swept along by.

Elsewhere, the album continues to deliver the goods in solid fashion. Shake! Shake! gets the bones shaking, All Or Nothing contains an Oasis-like swagger, I Won’t Let You Down re-introduces the US alt-rock vibe in invigorating fashion and boasts some fiery lyrics, and Always Tomorrow powers its way to some lively choruses.

But there’s also the occasional moment of pause to enable the listener to catch their breath and remove suspicions that they’re a one-note band.

Move To Newlyn picks up amid some fine acoustic strumming and a tambourine backing, before engaging with its shimmering indie-pop, while Strawberry Blonde weaves some melancholy piano chords around its slower acoustics and almost falsetto vocals. It’s a striking listen because of its intricate layering.

The Subways aren’t really doing anything different or amazing with this sophomore release, and there are those who think it’s arrived too late to give them their shot, but indie-rock and alt-rock fans would do well to take notice, especially since the presence of producer Vig speaks volumes for the type of quality to expect.

Download picks: Girls & Boys, Shake! Shake!, Move To Newlyn, I Won’t Let You Down, Strawberry Blonde

Track listing:

  1. Girls & Boys
  2. Kalifornia
  3. Alright
  4. Shake! Shake!
  5. Move To Newlyn
  6. All or Nothing
  7. I Won’t Let You Down
  8. Turnaround
  9. Obsession
  10. Strawberry Blonde
  11. Always Tomorrow
  12. Lostboy