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The Subways’ debut disc shows strong potential

Observer Scene | Thursday, March 9, 2006

“Young for Eternity,” the first album from The Subways, hit the shelves on Valentine’s Day this year, and while the album itself isn’t all about love, there is a lot to love about the album itself. With its minimalist music and swelling, catchy choruses, The Subways prove that they are a new band worth watching.

The band started in Hertfordshire, England, and moved from relative obscurity to major success following their win at the Glastonbury Music Festival Unsigned Performers Competition in 2004. They found even greater mainstream success with the release of this debut album. The band was a hit in its native Britain and played everything from summer festivals to its own sold-out, headlining tour across the U.K.

While The Subways were relatively unknown in the U.S., the band recently crossed the pond in a major way with a gig on “The O.C.” The Fox melodrama has become known as a launching pad for indie music bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse on their way to mainstream success, and The Subways have been no exception. Following its performance on “The O.C.,” the band will soon perform on the David Letterman show, which should offer them even greater exposure in the United States.

The Subways are made up of guitarist/lead singer Billy Lunn, his fianc̩e Charlotte Cooper on bass and his brother Josh Morgan on drums. The band is relatively young РLunn is 21 and the other two band members are 19 Рbut their sound is more developed than their ages would suggest.

“Young for Eternity” is a rollicking mix of pared-down production, punk influences and catchy melodies. The songs move from fast-paced and pounding to calm and melodic, and it is difficult at times to describe the exact “sound” of The Subways. Their garage-band feel puts them in the realm of bands like the White Stripes and The Strokes, but they manage to put their own unique stamp on their songs.

The album opens with “I Want to Hear What You’ve Got to Say,” a song that begins slowly and simply but gradually shifts to a fast, pounding chorus. It also showcases the fact that Lunn and Cooper share vocal duties, which give many of their songs a kind of “call and answer” feel to them.

The album moves on the punk-tinged “Holiday” and the commanding “Rock and Roll Queen,” which is one of the band’s more well-known singles. “Mary” exhibits a more unusual blend of folk and punk than some of the other songs on “Young for Eternity” and boasts an extremely catchy guitar line. The heavy sound of “Somewhere” and “Young for Eternity” contrasts with the languid, calm sound of songs like “Lines of Light” and “She Sun.”

The best songs on the album include “Oh Yeah,” which opens with pounding drums and swelling guitar but transitions into a catchy chorus, as well as “I Want to Hear What You’ve Got to Say” and the uniquely catchy “Mary”.

The Subways are a great new band and show huge potential for future success. The voices of Lunn and Cooper are better on some songs than on others, but overall “Young for Eternity” is an extremely enjoyable album that displays an intriguing range of musical diversity.