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The Subways - The Subways (LP Review)

The Subways, The Subways

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THEY’VE long been able to rock your socks off but The Subways’ eponymous fourth album might just be their best work yet.

A full on rock record with the hooks the band have become famous for, this is shot through with catchy songs that combine the heavy with the melodic to often seamless effect, complete with those raucous boy-girl vocals we’ve all come to love.

It also marks a new phase for the band, for having previously worked with legendary producers on their first three albums (Stephen Street, Butch Vig and Ian Broudie), lead singer Billy Lunn has taken on full engineering, production and mixing responsibility. The result is intended not to be over-thought or over produced – just direct.

And that is clear from the start, with heart-pounding opener (and former single) My Heart Is Pumping To A Brand New Beat hitting you with resounding guitar riffs, high-energy drums and ferocious vocals during the chorus. That said, there’s a melodicism that also makes it radio-friendly.

Things get even better two tracks later with the barnstorming Taking All The Blame, which drops an insanely addictive drum beat and some crazy-good melodies. It’s a riot of energy and likeability, especially when the boy-girl vocals drop all over the chorus.

There’s more no-nonsense rock on Dirty Rotten Paws, which clobbers you with another incendiary riff and a monster chorus (“but you’re too busy with your dirty muddy paws”), while Just Like You finds Charlotte Cooper taking the vocal lead to endearing effect on an all too brief but highly catchy crowd-pleaser (it clocks in at just one minute, 44 secs).

We Get Around is a foot-stomper par excellence that, again, finds The Subways unleashing their heaviest hooks, riffs and vocals, while Pet Boy similarly wastes no time in getting into your face and piledriving its way into your subconscious. But they do it so well and without appearing obnoxious.

And they save one of the best tracks on the LP for late in the day with the punk-rock Black Letter opening amid one of the best vocal arrangements, and then combining it with a really rough and ready outing. It even has wailing in it – but somehow it suits things well and only serves to invigorate even more. The guitar hook is great.

Twisted Game is also very heavy (possibly the heaviest), while Is That Enough? begs the question as the album comes to a firecracker finale. It benefits from Cooper’s dreamy lead vocals to offset the heavy guitar work and makes for an arresting conclusion.

There is a token slow-burner, Because Of You (Negative Love), which is good, but it’s clear throughout that The Subways primary concern is to rock your world. And they do just that in thrilling fashion. It’s a welcome return.

Download picks: My Heart Is Pumping To A Brand New Beat, Taking All The Blame, Dirty Muddy Paws, Black Letter, Is That Enough?

Track listing:

  1. My Heart Is Pumping To A Brand New Beat
  2. I’m In Love And It’s Burning In My Soul
  3. Taking All The Blame
  4. Dirty Muddy Paws
  5. Good Times
  6. Because Of You (Negative Love)
  7. Just Like Jude
  8. We Get Around
  9. Pet Boy
  10. Black Letter
  11. Twisted Game
  12. Is That Enough