Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Subways - All Or Nothing

Strangely for an album in this day and age, The Subways' second effort has yet to leak despite it being less than two weeks until the release date. The staff at Warner Brothers records were very proud of this fact, as apparently only certain magazines had been sent a promotional copy. This meant that the dozen or so fans at the exclusive fan preview (plus those sitting in the courtyard below due to open windows and it being played extremely loud) were one of the very first people to hear All Or Nothing. Thus, as far as I'm aware, this is the first online track by track review of the album (that wasn't from a band member).

  1. Girls and Boys. No doubt you will have already downloaded it from the website. A good intro to the song, nice contrasting vocals on the chorus but not what you want as an opening song on an album. Gets a tad repetitive after a while.
  2. Reading Festival Kalifornia. A very summery chorus but nothing new in the two years since it debuted. An absolutely cracking instrumental break undone by a pointless pause before Billy's yell (is such a thing wise given his vocal problems?).
  3. Alright. Like No Goodbyes from the first album, but its heavier scarier older brother. A lovely summer song that'll play well on the radio and draw the casual fans in, and also continuing an opening that's much heavier than you'd expect.
  4. Shake! Shake!. Another old new song (in that it's been around for two years). The bass intro that works so well live seems out of place on the album, but as soon as the song kicks in it's exactly like the live version - and for this band it's a compliment that the live energy's not been polished away.
  5. Move To Newlyn. This song has apparently been floating around since August 2005 (story here) and the opening will sound familiar to anybody who's got Young For Eternity (several of us jokingly started singing "Mary is my best friend..." along to the intro). That said it's a definite grower and a bit of an abrupt change in pace, moving to a very acoustic jaunty song from four heavier tracks. I can see it being released as a single after I Won't Let You Down and Shake Shake.
  6. All Or Nothing. This song is like fabric, in that I found it very difficult to have an opinion about it. I tried to force one through but by the end of the song I wasn't swayed either way. It's a very cheery song and Billy wears his 1990s Britpop influences on his sleeve with this track, and it has the potential to be a grower.
  7. I Won't Let You Down. Back on form. My notes for this simply read "if WB don't release this as a single they're fools and in the wrong business". The two contrasting vocal styles combine superbly in the chorus, it's an absolute monster of a song.
  8. Turnaround. Since hearing this live last May I've been curious as to how it'll sound on record. It's a treat for old-old-school Subways fans, those who have heard the early grungy demos as it's very similar - and being produced by Butch Vig it's very apt! A different style to everything else on the album but no worse for it. Contains the third bass solo on the record - a tradeoff, perhaps, for Charlotte not taking any lead vocals despite her voice improving?
  9. Obsession. The riff for this sounds scarily similar to Shake Shake and the song overall fits in with Alright and Kalifornia - it seems very light and summery, until you listen to the lyrics which are as dark as hell. Potentional to be a grower but left a fair number indifferent to it on first listen.
  10. Strawberry Blonde. From the moment the piano starts the intro you know it's not a normal Subways song. It's this album's Mary - Billy's ode to his current squeeze. Aurally similar to Wonderwall, bonus points are gained for mentioning Firefly (although probably not the TV show). Could possibly make a good single.
  11. Always Tomorrow. A very pacy, summery song that shows how much the band has grown in the intervening years. The fact that I can't remember much else about it doesn't bode well - like Obsession, another take-it-or-leave-it song.
  12. Lostboy. The opening sounds like Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by Green Day, another 90s influenced track. It's a great song, very catchy and several people were humming it on the way to the pub afterwards. It's a bit of an abrupt end to the album, and I think this will polarise opinion as many people love the big buildup and climax of Somewhere on Young For Eternity. If you can realise that it's not supposed to be a Somewhere mk II you'll realise how good a song it is.
So, that's it. A complete track by track. I approached the album with an open mind and empty bladder, and from the first listen I'll give it 7.8 out of 10. I think that with repeated listens some tracks may grow on me. Due to a wealth of superb albums released this year already I don't think it'll make my top five - contrastingly, had it been released last year it would've made my top three for sure (leaving aside any personal disagreements with band members for both comments).


Matt said...

you didn't mention the hidden bonus track 'courtesy & respect". that was a corker

Rosie Fiona said...

You've described it as 'summery' at least 3 times there. Somehow I don't see it.
I am interested to hear Strawberry Blonde though, that's about it :)