I'm hard pressed to find something to say about this album. I'm not loving it and I'm not hating it. It is just there. The main problem I have with the album is that it is unabashedly simplistic. It is a rock album. And that is it. It breaks down rock into basic parts-guitar, bass, drums, and vocals-and just goes. But it doesn't go anywhere. I kept waiting for something to happen and I'm still waiting.
I don't think that there is anything wrong with simple. The first Violent Femmes album is the most stripped down sounding album that rocks harder than any amped up guitar sound could. As a listener, you are grabbed from the first track and abducted only to find yourself ten songs later, shaken on the street corner, filled with leftover adrenaline from the thrashing you've just received and regret for enjoying it as much as you did. There is no visceral reaction to be found at the end of the twelve songs on Young For Eternity,. I just feel like I've been yelled at by a couple of British kids. There was no real emotion to be felt behind these songs. I'm reminded of a Weekend Update skit on Saturday Night Live where Amy Poehler played Avril Lavigne. She just starts yelling,
"NO!!! I'm a punk rocker! I'm wearing a boy's tanktop! Look at my mad face! Bleaaah!! F it up! Suck it! Look! Watch! [ holds her hand up in a backwards peace sign ] That's the English middle finger! Wrap your minds around that! I don't know who David… Bow-ie is… or the Sex… Pie-stols... I'm, like, 17, and they're, like, 100! So… [ makes mad face ] ..bleaaahh!!"
There is just a lot of going through the motions of how a rock album "should" sound without being able to point to "why" it sounds like that. Trust me, "it sounds cool" isn't an answer.
One of the best tracks on the album is the first one, "I Want To Hear What You Have Got To Say." It is the perfect introduction to the band. They show the best that they have to offer all in one song. The song starts quietly with Bill Lunn singing sweetly if not kind of awkwardly "Another day is here and I am still alive/I say these words aloud, they speak of the inside" while his guitar strums softly. The drums come pounding in and the song builds and builds. When the band is almost at full tilt, Charlotte Cooper, the bassists, chimes in and changes up the dynamic a little bit with her voice. And they pound their way on to the end. It really showcases all the tricks the band has to offer and does it pretty well. Unfortunately, after this first promising debut, the album goes downhill with a particular low point being the tune "Oh Yeah". The vocals of that song are limited to what seems like only three notes in what can only be described as an effort to match the three chords the song uses. The world may never know.
That said, I think I could unequivocally say that I think The Subways probably put on a great live show. I would think the simplistic nature of the songs would lend itself pretty well to being very dynamic on the stage itself. To believe the press clippings about the band, it can be the only explanation that I can think of for the broad appeal of The Subways. So I would suggest that you see them live first and then check out the album. And while you do that, I'll just be here…waiting…