Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Suburbs - Hey Muse! (2017)

Written by Lance Wright, posted by blog admin

The Suburbs may have never enjoyed the lasting success or exposure earned by near contemporaries like The Replacements and Husker Du, but their substantial talents carried them from the local Minneapolis scene to national notice and a major label deal that produced a number of memorable releases. The band fell silent in the 1990’s and the first decade of the 21st century before original members Chan Poling and Huge Klaer resurrected the outfit with longtime saxophonist Max Ray in tow and some new additions that catapulted them back into critical and popular notice from their comeback release 2013’s Si Sauvage. Since that release, The Suburbs have gone a long way towards reminding audience and music buyers alike why they enjoyed such a strong reputation during their prime and are often lauded as one of the era’s best acts. Their latest release, a 10 song offering entitled Hey Muse!, revisits many of the qualities making them such a successful outfit while exhibiting genuine growth.

Few songs on this release will better illustrate how far Poling, Klavers, and their ideas about what this band can do than the title track and album opener. “Hey Muse!” has some genuinely impressive guitar work never opting to attempt dominating the song but, instead, adding lighting strikes of inspiration in the right places to make its musical mark. The lyrical content is particularly artful and given a further spin by Poling’s obviously engaged vocal. “Lost You on the Dance Floor” is another of Hey Muse’s marquee numbers and has a much more throwback feel than many of the other tracks on the release. The simplified backbeat keeps the song proceeding along a straight line and the mix of top line melodic instruments over the top of that steady beat is full of color and snap. Poling varies his singing approach some on this song to excellent effect and even gives the track an unexpectedly melancholy edge. “Je Suis Strange” is another of the album’s strong guitar based songs, but the band’s wont when approaching guitar is to utilize it in a more orchestral fashion than other acts. Its presence isn’t omni-present. The slashing six string fills give this song brief, controlled blasts of fire that make it all the more memorable.

“Unified Force” is another hard-hitting track making great use of the band’s musical arsenal. There’s some retro feel propelling this song forward, but it begins life with a strong brass presence before settling into a sleek, streamlined groove with much of the same straight-ahead percussion defining the earlier track “Lost You on the Dance Floor”. Guitar and keyboards are critical to success of the late album track “Cupid” and the loose, confident feel they conjure musically makes this an immensely likeable tune. Hey Muse! is a worthy addition to The Suburbs’ discography and shows their continuing commitment to producing compelling musical works that stretch the boundaries of their capabilities while still embracing the band’s long history.  

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