Unchained Music Blog

Unchained Music Blog

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Suburbs - Hey Muse! (2017)

Written by Montey Zike, posted by blog admin

The Suburbs are a new discovery for me.  As a fan of New Wave and how punk twisted to a more melodic version for its formation, you’d think I’d know a band that had their heyday in the late 70s until the end of the 80s.  It’s always a pleasure discovering old music that I’ve missed and The Suburbs are no exception.  Their newest disc Hey Muse! feels at once fresh and classic in how it’s true to New Wave’s original vibe. 

The one-two punch of the opening title track and “Lost You on the Dance Floor” overflows with breathless walking bass lines, crunchy snare-centered drumming that provides precise time-keeping, melodic alternating lead and background vocals, splashy synthesizer throbs and well-composed, airtight songwriting make for edgy pop-tinged songs that are designed to get the entirety of nightclub patrons moving beneath the neon lights.  “Je Suis Strange” changes up the tempo to a fun, bright uptempo where classic Madness/The Specials styled, ska guitar grooves collide into a fiesta of Mexican sound where horns are high in the mix besides the keyboards.  The bass lines keep a steady, mid-paced foundation as rich background vocals immediately hook you in for the sing-a-long. 

“Lovers” relies on quirky tempos, feeling slightly more difficult to latch onto the melody.  It’s an experimental tune that shakes the floor with bursts of bass-y synths and a dense brass arrangement.  It’s a decent tune yet not quite up to the standard of some the album’s other rockers.  Speaking of rockers, “Can’t Take You Back” and its counterpart “Unified Force” are some of the record’s fieriest rockers; built on rollicking punk rock riffs filtered through new wave’s vocal/guitar melodies, organic rhythms and sugar sweet keys.  “Our Love” draws from the well of groovy reggae rhythms and the ska-punk horn elements, coming off as a cross between The English Beat and The Specials at the top of their respective games.  “Cupid” is cut from the same cloth, though it’s not quite as instantly memorable as its predecessor.  The gorgeous ballad “Butterfly” brings serenity and tranquility to the mind in the form of sultry keyboard hums, slow motion tempo drones and a hazy backbeat, leaving album finale “When We Were Young” to cap things off in full-on new wave n’ roll mode. 

Hey Muse! sounds like a new band doing a really fine job of updating an old sound but that’s the catch… these guys have been in the game for nearly 40 years and are still cranking out classics.  The majority of this record is top-notch and even the slightly filler moments are decently composed.  You can’t ask for more than that. 

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