Written by Joshua Stryde, posted by blog admin
Formed in 1977 Minneapolis-bred, New Wave pioneers The Suburbs return with their 7th full-length album. From pop inflected numbers to mariachi married rock n’ roll, the band’s latest record Hey Muse! is constantly catchy, immaculately played and solidly written across its 10 varied tracks. Maybe it was a matter of location (and definitely major labels dropping the PR ball) but The Suburbs had the material to be as big as New Order, Oingo Boingo and The Talking Heads.
The shimmering, jangly title track is the opener and it’s driven by the echoing guitars, pulsating bass lines, and Hugo Klaers' shuffling, lockstep drumming. It’s danceable, in control of the monstrously hooky chorus and even a bit dark in the guitar department. Focusing more on the keyboards, the bouncy pop romp of “Lost You on the Dance Floor” has twinkling synth flavors rubbing elbows with affecting vocoder background vocals dueling with the deep leads, ska-kissed guitar licks and heavily grooved bass tricks. This tune could easily be a radio breakout in the hands of the right DJ.
“Je Suis Strange” brings in mariachi horns into its rich web of vocal interplay. Modern darlings like Does It Offend You surely took influence from The Suburbs. The punchy electric guitar down strokes open up into highly melodic segments during the chorus (including some fuzzy leads) while the bass/drum salvos further the catchiness and maintain forward propulsion. “Lovers” is in full on funk mode; fluid bass runs coupled to stop/start synthesizer fun keep this number headed forward and never back. Horns return to this track but trade salsa for a soulful swagger. The Oingo Boingo inspired “Can’t Take You Back” has dramatic horn sections, a Danny Elfman sounding lead vocal component, spaghetti western twang, an electrified guitar solo and tons of attitude for that punk/new wave boogie that Elfman and the company perfected (circa Nothing to Fear and Dead Man’s Party). The riff-y “Unified Force” conjures up similar feelings for another album standout perfectly blending ska punk guitar, funky new wave rhythms and stellar vocal melodies. It’s a great to report that the album’s final push is equally strong; the 60s beatnik brushstrokes of “Our Love” works up an energetic sweat, the alternating guitar/keyboard leads in “Cupid” cast a darker lost love vibe, “Butterfly” is an alluring ballad while closer “When We Were Young” simmers in a 70s hard rock aura for a solid, hard-hitting close.
Hey Muse! is an excellent return from a band that should have received much more credit for influencing the style than they ever did. They also have an individual sound that doesn’t cop from the genre’s elder statesmen. If any band is worth rediscovering, The Suburbs are the one due for a second chance and this disc is a great place to start.