The Subways

The Subways

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The eponymous title of the Subways' fourth studio album might suggest to some that the group is getting back to basics, but the truth is the Subways never strayed that far from their elemental side, and they're certainly not changing that now. Still a revved-up power trio that is a little bit punk, a little bit pop, and a little bit glam, the Subways load the album with high-stepping tunes built around simple but crunchy guitar figures, basic but hard-swinging beats, and the surprisingly sweet harmonies of guitarist Billy Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper. If there's a change on The Subways, it's that Lunn and Cooper, who used to be partners off-stage as well as on, have split up, and tunes like "Taking All the Blame" and "Because of You" clearly address the ways their breakup have changed their lives, and if musically this set doesn't represent a major turnover in the group's approach, lyrically these songs are noticeably more perceptive than this act's overall body of work. If the Subways had the ambition to build a concept album out of the breakup, this might have been the pop-punk answer to Rumours, but that's also a grander conceit than these folks have in mind -- first and foremost, the Subways want to rock, and that's just what they deliver here, with Lunn, Cooper, and drummer Josh Morgan locking and and laying out a fistful of strong but hook-heavy songs that will have you pogoing like it's 1977. Perhaps Lunn and Cooper ought to consider couples counseling as a sideline; not every rock & roll divorce plays out as smoothly and favorably as this, and The Subways unwittingly demonstrates it is possible to have a good time with your ex after the big blowup.

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