It seems a bit funny to me that an English band would name themselves The Subways. After all, in the UK they call it the “tube.” But The Tubes was already taken some time ago, thus prompting this English trio to call themselves The Subways. Shiny, fast and urban, it’s just about the most fitting name to give this English trio that’s, well, equally shiny, fast and urban. Sure, it’s just a name, one that was probably picked out of a hat in the interest of saving time. Maybe there’s a longer background to it. Maybe there isn’t, but it works on many levels, much to my amusement.
The Subways’ debut, Young For Eternity, possesses all the qualities of a high-speed train, not the least of which are comfort and efficiency. Everything here is reasonably short and familiar, and really, when you come right down to it, the qualities you look for in a garage rock band are the same qualities you look for in public transportation. Billy Lunn, Charlotte Cooper and Josh Morgan careen through their musical tunnels aerodynamically, cutting down on any possible drag with their swift power chords and snotty sneers. And in three minutes or less, they promptly yield at the next stop.
All train jokes aside, though, The Subways rock the way a trio of snotty teenagers should. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the kiddies make haste, cranking out a supremely fun dozen songs that stand up to the best of their older contemporaries. From the choppy guitar stomp of “I Want to Hear What You Have to Say” to the grungy assault of “Holiday” to the sweet and bouncy “Mary,” there’s no shortage of energy or charm here, and one’s hard pressed not to be reminded of a young Ash, Supergrass or Libertines. The band members’ ages are a dead giveaway in their lyrics, however, which range from straight-to-the-point (“I’m on my way now/I’ll get there somehow“) to delightfully dumb (“you are so cool/you are so rock `n’ roll“). Not that that’s a complaint, mind you. Nobody ever said you needed to quote Proust to rock.
Part of the thanks for such a superb sound on Young for Eternity should be given to Ian Broudie for allowing the shiny youth to glimmer so brightly. One can’t help but feel that, without the proper production values, the songs may not have the same “oomph.” Still, The Subways, most likely because of not having been alive long enough to become jaded scenesters, keep it fresh and fun, which is all that good music has to be sometimes.
Verbena – Into the Pink
The Features – Exhibit A
Ash – Trailer
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.