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Lost the "live" edge
on 23 September 2005
Judging by the reviews here, I'm in the minority regarding my opinion of this album. It's far from being terrible, but somewhere along the line The Subways went from being a fantastic live act to delivering a rather average album.
My first encounter with the band was around 18 months ago at a gig in Cardiff, which I attended purely on a whim. They were astonishing, with Lunn thrashing about the stage like an electrified whirling-dervish (quite literally bouncing off the walls at some points), and Cooper oozing the sort of rock-chick cool that prompted several enthusiastic propositions from the crowd.
Meanwhile, Morgan, stripped to the waist, went at the drums like Animal from the Muppets made flesh.
I left there convinced I'd witnessed the Next Big Thing(TM), and enthusiastically extolled their virtues to anyone who'd listen. Finally, at long last, the album came out. And it's become rather (gasp) poppy.
There's still a bit of the original swagger in the likes of "Rock & Roll Queen", "1 AM", and "Oh Yeah", all of which have been knocking around for quite a while, but even these older tracks sound like they've been smoothed down when compared with the "taster" CDs that used to be on sale at the gigs.
This isn't necessarily that surprising, but with the sharp edges taken away, it all sounds rather sterile.
Maybe it's a problem of expectation, but I'd assumed The Subways would get the sort of stick-hitting-a-tin-can production of The White Stripes, and instead they got... Ian Broudie? The Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie?! No wonder it sounds like it's been hit with the pop-tastic stick.
All-in-all then, a bit of a let-down, but still a few glimmers of hope in there. And I just can't help singing along to "Mary"...