Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Suburbs - Hey Muse! (2017)


Written by Ed Price, posted by blog admin

Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Suburbs are a quartet that were a sonic force in the development of the new wave/punk genre and prove that 40 or so years after their formation they can still deliver the goods.  With noteworthy track to track variety, excellent musicianship and superb production/mixing, The Suburbs haven’t lost a single step with record number 7, Hey Muse!  

Fans of Joy Division, New Order, The Madness, The Clash and even Blondie should find a lot to love as each of the album’s 10 tracks are packed with undeniable melodies and a tight mesh of unique sonic layers.  The title track benefits from unbreakable staccato drumming with a taut snare placed front n’ center, open and ringing clean guitar chords, bass lines that travel their own path and soaring vocal back-ups mixing with the hickory cured baritone leads there is dance-ability and darkness in equal measure to sink your teeth into.  Trading eerie feelings for a positive push, “Lost You on the Dance Floor” has glimmering, diamond sharp synths careening into economical but effect rhythms that favor a fervent, steady swing over complexity.  There’s such a irresistible chorus here that this would topped charts internationally had it been released in the 80s, though even now it should wow fans that thought the band dead or that the current new wave scene is on life support.  The layered, vocoder female vocal accompaniment is the perfect foil to the expressive leads.  

“Je Suis Stranger” changes up the mood drastically.  Roping in country-fried guitar twang, bustling new wave rhythms, charming brass arrangements and some of the album’s top shelf, fine wine vocal melodies, this song just oozes class and commitment; the mark of an elder band showing the pups how it’s done. Keyboardist Chan Poling and great bass playing give “Lovers” a churning, bottom heavy thickness but the atmosphere remains fun-loving with funky ska-informed guitar licks, horns and swirly outer space synths concocting a playful musical tease.  “Can’t Take You Back” culls its rushing, perky rhythms from punk, its wistful horns from reggae/ska and its dusty, sandstorm guitars/keys from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack.  It’s a powerful piece with a killer little guitar solo and well thought out lyrics making a relationship breakdown into a dance-y affair.  

“Unified Force” pours on the trippy organ sound FX and hyper melodic keys onto a tune that has some of The Clash’s harmonic punk on tap in addition to quaking bass lines and incisive keyboards.  The remaining tracks are all sturdy constructions of the band’s best qualities with only sublime ballad “Butterfly” coming off as a bit out of place.  Even with that minor nitpick there’s not too many complaints you can levy against Hey Muse!  These genre innovators have come back with a fantastic record after a 4/5 year break

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