The Subways have come a long way in the last few years. As a young teenager, lead singer Billy Lunn, frustrated with small town life, decided to form a band with his brother Josh and his girlfriend Charlotte as an escape from it all. Inspired by iconic rock bands of the 90′s such as Nirvana and Oasis, they began gigging locally and recording a series of demo EPs.
Their lives as they knew it changed forever in the summer of 2004, when they won the Glastonbury battle of the bands competition. The rest, as they say, is history – mass hysteria ensued, ensuring a major label deal and a big name producer (Ex Lightning Seed Ian Broudie) for this debut album, Young For Eternity.
And after listening to this record, it’s clear that the hype is not misplaced. There are some moments of true brilliance, and the youthful verve and aggression displayed is often something to behold. It is by no means flawless, but that’s hardly the point – this album is about capturing a moment in time, a time when you’re young and carefree, a time where nothing really matters. And by this criteria, they’ve made a magnificent album that’s the best of it’s kind since Ash‘s 1977.
There are 12 songs (13, if you count the ‘encore’ track 1am) here, some heavy and some acoustic based, that primarily speak of what it is to be a teenager – to be in love for the first time, to be stuck in mundane jobs and to dream of those budget holidays in the sun.
Album opener and highlight I Want To Hear What You Have Got To Say speaks about the anguish of rejection (“Every time I see you, you don’t know my name”), Rock & Roll Queen is Lunn’s ode to his girlfriend Charlotte (“You are the sun, you are my only one”) and forthcoming single With You speaks of the joys of being in a relationship (“My best days are with you, they are so easy”).
Cynics may scoff at this simplistic approach, but they’re merely a collection of Lunn’s experiences to date. Give them 10 years, and they’ll be writing about things like fair trade or political discontent. But for now, we can’t expect anything more. They’re straightforward and honest, and there’s nothing wrong with that – especially when the songs sound as good as they do.
Musically, the album is essentially a microcosm of a handful of great rock bands of the last 15 years or so. The bruising riffs and robotic drumming of Holiday and Young For Eternity owe a debt to Nirvana and more latterly Aussie rockers The Vines, whilst there’s more than a fair share of Oasis on here, in particular the lovely No Goodbyes, which could have easily appeared on Morning Glory.
Then you have single of the year contender Oh Yeah, which takes a leaf out of the Ash handbook on how to write an outrageously catchy and infectious pop-rock number. And there’s also a hint of the Pixies about them, given Charlotte Cooper’s backing vocals, which interplay beautifully with Lunn’s on the majority of the tracks.
So this may be nothing revolutionary, but no one can deny them the fact that they’ve taken these influences and created an honest set of songs that all sound fresh, vital and exciting. For this they must be applauded. There’s also more than enough potential here to suggest a true classic may only be round the corner. For now though, Young For Eternity remains an essential purchase.