The Suburbs

Love Is the Law

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While overshadowed by their Minneapolis contemporaries the Replacements and Prince, the Suburbs still managed to leave their distinct mark on the musical landscape of the early '80s, as evidenced by their masterful 1983 effort Love Is the Law. The band must have been paying attention when 1981's double-length Credit in Heaven was heralded as a slightly overlong classic, because Love Is the Law concentrates their alternative dance-rock into a single-length showcase of their strengths. Drummer Hugo Klaers and bassist Michael Halliday force the frenetic tempos favored by the group, and Chan Poling keeps pace with his versatility on piano and synthesizer. Bruce C. Allen's jittery guitar complements the nervous, cynical desperation of vocalist Blaine John "Beej" Chaney, who also contributes "beejtar." The opening rumble of the title track is immediately hooked with bright, lively horns, which reappear throughout the album to help release tension. Along with Poling's opportune keyboard effects and Chaney's exaggerated vocals, the guest horns accentuate a fun-loving spirit generally belied by titles such as "Hell A" and "Perfect Communist." Fun and fury merge on the infectious disco rockabilly of "Rattle My Bones," in which a horny, homeward-bound motorist shifts from impatient restraint to rowdy celebration. Some of Chaney's potentially disturbing episodes are offset by his mannerisms, like the Stan Ridgway approximation that makes "Crazy Job" seem more satirical than psychotic. In general, Love Is the Law is harder and tighter than previous releases, and even the most intense tracks produce lingering melodies in the wake of relentless rock & roll. The Suburbs may not have equaled the success or longevity of other Minneapolis musicians from the 1980s, but Love Is the Law holds its own against the more celebrated albums of its time.

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