The Suburbs

Suburbs

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The first major-label release by the Suburbs, 1984's Love Is the Law was a fine effort -- some consider it the Minneapolis group's best -- but it didn't sell and Mercury Records dropped them. They signed with A&M on the rebound, but their sole release for the label, 1986's Suburbs, sounds like A&M didn't know what to do with the Suburbs once it had them. The album is inappropriately produced (by one Robert Brent, who had previously been known as Bobby Z, the drummer in Prince & the Revolution) in a fashion that completely sublimates all of the qualities that had made the quintet so musically interesting in the first place. The Roxy Music-meets-Gang of Four urgency of earlier albums like In Combo and Credit in Heaven is replaced by perfectly listenable but utterly anonymous dance-rock drenched in every production cliché of the mid-'80s. Beej Chaney's dramatic vocals and quirky lyrics occasionally peek through ("Every Night's a Friday Night" is the album's most successful track), but far too much of the album is in the vein of the competent but uninspired single "Heart of Gold." The Suburbs broke up shortly after this release, apparently not a moment too soon.

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