Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Subways - Money and Celebrity Preview

One thing that the UK can still be proud of is our ability to turn out a hard-rockin' power trio or two. From Ireland, we have Ash, Wales has Feeder, Scotland has Biffy Clyro, and England? Take your pick from any down the years of The Jam, Muse, Reuben, or The Subways, a humble trio who have managed to scoot under the radar for most of their career, despite being signed to one of the biggest (and most hateful) record labels in the world. Maybe it's just not cool to be in a rock 'n' roll band these days. They're also rather nice guys, and not the type you can picture them turning up unconscious in a puddle of vomit and cocaine. So that pretty much guarantees they'll never top the NME Cool List. Nevermind, say they, we've got a party going on over at our place, wanna come down? Well since you asked, yeah, why not?

This is largely the central theme behind the Welwyn Garden City boys (and girl)'s upcoming third record, Money and Celebrity. Yeah, that innovative and not-at-all clichéd topic for a rock 'n' roll album. Unoriginal though it may be, I've never critiscised bands who just want to get people (slam) dancing and having fun with no further ambitions. After all, they got all the heavy emotional stuff out of the way on their last album, All Or Nothing, where the lyrics dealt with the tough breakup of frontman Billy Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper. Despite this difficult birth, it was a punchy and powerful record, and rocked hard when it wanted to. So the trio have a fair bit to live up to, although it's obvious quickly that this will not be All Or Nothing Part 2. In one respect that's a shame, as there were patches where Lunn was showing signs that he can pen a strong rhyming couplet or two. Now though, on the evidence of the new tracks that are available to listen to he's lapsed into lazy, hackneyed lines about having fun, having a good time and...well, you get the idea. They attempt a bit of social commentary on 'Celebrity', but even then it's riddled in cliché, and worse than that, the lyric sheet bears a suspicious resemblance to the Queen & Paul Rogers song of the same name from a couple of years ago. Stealing clichés from other bands? I'll have to ask you to step outside, Mr Lunn, I'll be speaking to you after class about this.

But as I said earlier, it's hard to be churlish when a band are having the time of their lives and are openly inviting everyone to join them, and any deficiencies in the lyrics are instantly masked by some excellent trademark riffs and guitar hooks. Lunn can write lyrics in about the same way as I can do complex algebra, but he has an undeniable ear for a hook, and with Cooper and his drumming brother Josh Morgan alongside him as sidekicks in the mischief, fun and great tunes are guaranteed. The free-download lead single 'It's A Party' is outrageously catchy, with it's sinewy lead riff and gratuitous usage of cowbell in the verses. The same goes for 'We Don't Need Money To Have A Good Time', which sounds like a hyperactive cousin to 'Turnaround' from the last record. Both tracks, as well as 'Celebrity', come packed with powerchords and bouncing gang vocals from Lunn and Cooper, and if this is how the record will sound as a whole, I cannot wait for early September to come around. As for any of you reading this who haven't really kept up with The Subways in recent years, now seems like an excellent time to get aquainted - they may never achieve million-selling, stadium-filling stardom, but they remain one of the UK's best-kept secrets, and Money and Celebrity looks all set to continue that in some style.

Lead-off single 'It's A Party', which you can download from their website here.

'We Don't Need Money To Have A Good Time' Live at the Hurricane Festival 2011, complete with a German version of the chorus for the home crowd. Nice touch.

'Celebrity' Live at the Hurricane Festival.

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