I remember being in high school in the ’90s and discovering the band Pulp. I loved the attitude of Jarvis Cocker which was pompous, arrogant and somehow completely endearing. Very few individuals can pull this off. I got interested in where this persona real or fake came from. It led me to Bryan Ferry which then led me to dig further into some of the deeper cuts by Bowie.
More than twenty years later and I still love that music as much as when I discovered it. This leads to my recent discovery of the band The Suburbs. I had no idea they existed but with good reason. The band formed in 1977 and is about to release their second album entitled Hey Muse!. I have no idea why or what happened but I am glad I discovered them.
The band blends overt influences like Bowie, Ferry, New Order and like-minded artists with a little more contemporary production. In fact they sound very similar to another band that is inspired by the same icons but mixes it with slightly funky forward moving music. The band Hot Chip unequivocally has a comparable sound to The Suburbs.
The band opens with the title track. The song is immediately catchy and enjoyable. I loved the energy. The guitar goes from sounding like something you would hear from New Order to U2 in their heyday. The bass line and drum come closer to sounding like early Primal Scream.
“Lost You on The Dance Floor” was another success. The beat is fantastic and so are the hooks. The vocalist’s appreciation seems to come out when he sings “Lost in Translations” where the inflection to Bowie in undeniable. That's not the biggest tip of the hat to Bowie. It felt way more obvious on “Lovers” when he sings, “We can be lovers” which felt like a reinvention of the line “We could be heroes.”
As the album progresses there are a number of great songs. The funky ’70s flavor of “Unified Force” would be a hit at Studio 54 while “Butterfly” is one of the more somber tracks which unexpectedly had similarities to the band The National.
Hey Muse! Is a great album. The song are so well crafted, the production is top notch and the instrumentation is wide and diverse. As much I did enjoy it I would have loved to hear a little bit more of the essence of The Suburbs emerge rather than the influence of a particular niche style or even time that can be found running through some of the aforementioned bands. It was hard for me to get a handle on what The Suburbs was offering that was truly distinct to them alone - a feat that very few bands accomplish.
Overall, Hey Muse! Is an album I wouldn't miss out on. It’s still better than 99.8 percent of the crap you hear on the radio to my ears. Recommended.
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