All or Nothing
Warner Brothers Records
30 June 2008
by Pete Lockey
It isn’t a surprise to discover The Subways featured on an episode of teen show The O.C. What is a surprise, going from the sound of the band, is that they hail from leafy Welwyn Garden City, more famous for a mad Lord burying his Ferraris in his garden than generic MTV Bratcore bands.
It should be made clear that this album isn’t a complete write off and there is some real potential with The Subways.
Album opener ‘Girls & Boys’ kicks off with a shimmering guitar sound going into a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Muse track. ‘Strawberry Blonde’ contains a vocal from Charlotte Cooper that, stripped of the overproduction that plagues the rest of the album, shows a voice that could be very special.
The purported emo sound that some critics have pointed to is not in evidence, with more of a US West Coast sound emanating throughout the album. The production is ultra-slick, as you would expect from super-producer Butch Vig, but this slickness hinders rather than helps.
Watch the video to ‘Alright’ by The Subways
The edge the band had has been rounded off. The saccharine vocals grate from the first track and whilst the lyrics on ‘Young for Eternity’ could be seen as an expression of youthful exuberance there comes a time when spitting out the same teen angst styling, albeit on a wider ranging topic choice, becomes bland and repetitive.
Whilst plenty of the tunes on All or Nothing are catchy, the album does feel like an episode of The O.C. It appeals to certain senses at first, but once you start looking beyond the initial pleasure hit there is not much more to see.
As even the delectable Mischa Barton has discovered, skin deep beauty can only get you so far before you get found out.
All Or Nothing by The Subways is out now on Warner Brothers Records