[1 December 2005]
On first reflection The Subways’ debut, Young For Eternity, is an album split between garage rock and trite little ballads that could have been any number of follow up albums. Delve a little deeper and it’s an album of raw, impetuous, though not necessarily “tight” but “rehearsed” punk rock ‘n’ roll. Many of the faster-paced tracks, “Oh Yeah”, “City Pavement”, and “Young For Eternity”, possess powerful stomp-along chords and an irresistible, innocent fun.
The Subways are the new kid in the office; like the interns learning their first job out of college. They’re akin to the new boy wearing a tie in lurid purple with green circles the kind of tie that can only be worn by someone with a healthy amount of self-belief and an oblivious eye for accepted office behavior. They carry lots of attitude, big dreams, and a cheeky, clumsy style of personal interaction that makes you want to take them out after work to booze it up. But The Subways may actually elevate their careers beyond the comparable level of copying vast amounts of paper and making cups of coffee for a living. Their lack of composure and business etiquette is made up for by a fabulously brash and confident manner which will win people over.
There are many similarities between the Subways and others in this proverbial office. Take for instance the intern from a few years ago, The Vines. There was an angry and talented lad that came in with a “balls to the wall” attitude and proclaimed he would be working at a top firm in the big city within a year. We honestly still expect him to leave this sleepy hamlet any day now. The Subways have a similar swagger in their sound, employing driving, chunky rock guitar and garage rock hooks. Where ‘Young For Eternity’ separate themselves is in a more tempered vocal delivery and the novel concept of sweetness.
What about the clichéd and awkward office genius? You know, the guy that sits slouched in his mismatched clothes, looking odd and not quite all together? Yup, he’s the one that’s solved all the problems and increased revenue and no one really knows how. Perhaps that’s why I’m reminded of the unfortunate similarity in style The Subways’ drummer carries to the less able member of the White Stripes.
And then there is the self-proclaimed office cool dude, or at least the guy in the office that’s really only an average 40-year-old, middle manager that believes he’s still got ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is or was bypassed this 19-year career account manager, who is happy to settle for living with his ‘80s pop collection, American Idol, and driving his safe, mid-size SUV home each night.
The Subways are starting what will hopefully prove to be a far more interesting career than this dreadful analogy implies. Their basic sound is uncomplicated and fun, and several of the tracks on this debut carry the potential of becoming anthemic jukebox tunes. An opportunity to expand their US fan base presented itself on Friday, 18 November, when the Subways were featured like every other Brit-rock band that makes its way anywhere near radio play in the UK, on that staple of shark jumping the OC.
The Subways effectively imitate the good songs The Vines produced, the ballads of the White Stripes, and the Foo Fighters. Indeed, “Lines of Light” reminds me of the Vines’ “Autumn Shade”. This new triumvirate could do a lot worse than continue to mimic their way to success. I believe they have more spirit than that. There is more promise on the way, as a second album is already in the works. Which Australian band did we hear that about?
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/subways-young/