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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Suburbs - Hey Muse! (2017)

Written by William Elgin, posted by blog admin

Legendary Minneapolis New Wave/punk band The Suburbs re-emerged after two decades of silence with 2013’s Si Sauvage and their latest studio recording, Hey Muse!, is a ten song collection marking the seventh official studio release from this band. The fact their reputation endured such a prolonged absence from the scene and they’ve been able to bring old fans back into the fold while winning over a new generation of admirers testifies to their abiding talents as musicians and songwriters. The lineup is anchored by three key members – original keyboardist and vocalist Chan Poling, original drummer Hugo Klaers, and long serving saxophonist Max Ray, but they have recruited some five star cohorts to further flesh out the lineup and those choices have proven crucial in reestablishing the band as a renewed creative force. The Suburbs first formed in 1977, but they play with the unabashed passion of a band formed months ago and hungry to make their first album.

“Hey Muse!” begins the album with, arguably, one of its most artful moments. The lyrics for this track are written with a sparse, evocative style plumbing deep into the heart of the song’s obvious subject and surround it with an evocative array of guitars and tasteful keyboards. There’s some fun, raucous guitar on “Lost You on the Dance Floor” augmented by some well placed keyboard color. The straight ahead drumming sets an impressive, unwavering pulse for the song and there’s definitely a retro feel about the song, seemingly culled from the band’s eighties New Wave heyday, that’s given a completely modern context thanks to the production. There’s a visceral clarity to the recording that helps it leap out at listeners. “Lovers” has an unusual rhythm that’s likewise recorded in a gripping way. The drums sound in your face and only recede during the verses. There’s some deliciously raunchy horn playing coming in for brief flourishes and Max Ray even gets a short turn in the spotlight. Poling seals it all with another fine, emotive vocal.

“Can’t Take You Back” comes out of the gate trotting along at a nice clip and largely propelled by brass rave ups in between each vocal line. Hugo Klaers proves he's as crucial to the success of this tune as he did on “Lovers”. “Unified Force” moves along at hard sprint and comes off as much of an outright rock tune than many of the other numbers on Hey Muse! The penultimate track “Butterfly” has almost unbearable delicacy, but it never sounds self-consciously constructed. It shows another side of the band’s musical personality ad their daring in allowing their Muse to take her in whatever direction she deems fit. Her instinct is unerring somehow. The ten songs on Hey Muse! reveal the band to be bottomless regarding their depth and in full command of musical forms other bands of their ilk and vintage wouldn’t dare attempt. The Suburbs never sound like a band first formed 39 years ago. Instead, this sounds like a musical unit young, on the streets, and eager to prove themselves.

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