Dave Eggers the novelist once said he couldn't understand why people still reach for the basic guitar and drum combination to make rock music when there is an infinite variety of things you could use to create a sound. He was implying there is a basic conservative instinct in the majority of music makers from the very first instance of becoming engaged in the music making process. Why not pick up something entirely different to make sound ?
Listening to The Subways' debut, it's hard not to agree with him and wonder why they haven't branched out and incorporated other elements into their sound. It tends to suggest a distinct lack of interest in taking risks, experimentation and doing something different from the pack. Judged by its own narrow standards this is a pretty good debut with energy and life that's better than most other records of the same ilk around at the moment. But judged by the vast things you can do with music these days, it's constrained and limited, not least by their musical influences, or lack of them. When you compare say bass lines in rock to those that are being created in electronic music they often sound flat and lifeless. It seems an obvious thing to combine the two to create something with real force, The Rapture did this with their seminal 'House Of Jealous Lovers' track, and it's surprising that the Indie world hasn't cottoned on to and embraced this approach more.
'I Want To Hear What You Have To Say', 'Holiday', 'Rock N Roll Queen',
'Mary' and 'Young For Eternity' are well crafted and played with style and gusto, but there's a sense that this is rock music by numbers, working from a template set down years ago. Of course the young kids who are going to buy this will not doubt love and embrace it as it contains all the elements worth engaging with, but as their music tastes widen they'll probably come across the bands that have influenced The Subways and this LP will most likely stay left on the shelf.
'Somewhere' is a little like Nirvana and 'City Pavement' is very like The Stooges - great influences no doubt - as both were ground breaking at the time, but the spirit in which their music was made, pushing boundaries and breaking new ground, is sadly absent. 'No Goodbyes' and 'The Sun' sound like Oasis, who of course wore their influences on their sleeve like no other, so what you end up with is a facsimile of a facsimile and not a great deal of originality going on.
This is certainly not a bad debut from such a young band, but it is one that frustrates in its tunnel vision of what music should be. Hopefully they have enough talent to start to incorporate new elements into their sound and prevent themselves from becoming one of those bands that play safe and release the same record again and again ad infinitum.