The Subways - Money And Celebrity
Three is definitely the magic number for The Subways; echoing the gap between their debut and follow-up, Money And Celebrity has been three years in the making since All Or Nothing rocked TMF Towers and – cliché alert – it’s been worth the wait. As with Arctic Monkeys on Suck It And See, Money And Celebrity finds the band melding elements from their previous efforts to come up with a sound that is quintessentially their own, providing a high octane, tight blast of indie pop/rock along the way.
Opening with the frenetic ‘It’s A Party’, the album barely pauses for breath with a succession of tracks clocking in around the three minute mark - and it’s to the band’s credit that they never blend into one another, partly due to clever track listing. The jaunty ‘Down Our Street’ is deftly followed by the dirty bass-heavy opening of ‘Rumour’, for example, but the tracks all share something in common: the innate ability to latch into your memory. The immediacy of the entire album is really quite incredible, especially in the case of the aforementioned ‘Down Our Street’ which might not be Billy’s strongest songwriting moment (“Every door has something more to talk about / Every problem finds a way to get around”) and yet, we'll bet our house you’re still singing the chorus days later.
Lead single ‘We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time’ is an absolute blast, a rollicking beast of a track with a naysayers be damned attitude – “We got no education but we find a way / Not gonna be the ones to walk away”. You get the feeling that it’s going to be a foundation shaker live and, if anything, the same could be said of the majority of Money And Celebrity. It’s as though it was written with the live arena firmly in mind with the likes of soft acoustic sections leading to big endings (‘Rumour’), clapping refrains (‘I Wanna Dance With You’) and, for most of the tracks, effectively simplistic singalong choruses. It doesn’t diminish the listen on CD but there’s no doubt tracks will be elevated by being played in front of a receptive crowd.
It's generally strong lyrically as well, mainly casting a window on today’s society focussing on the titular topics. The protagonist of ‘Celebrity’ is not too dissimilar from a reality TV star, essentially someone who wants to be famous without doing anything: “She wants to ride in a chauffeured car / Her photograph in the morning papers / Cos in this world it’s who you are / And all she knows is she wants to be famous”. While ‘Popdeath’ is horribly relevant given recent events – “And you can care if you really want / Sing their songs when they’re dead and gone / You can bleed for the tortured souls / Too much sex and rock’n’roll”. It might not be the subtlest but gives the album an obvious spine that lends it a cohesion.
It lacks the variation that All Or Nothing provided but when not one filler is delivered along the way, it seems churlish to complain - especially when the outstanding ‘Leave My Side’ ends proceedings. One of the best things The Subways have ever done, it’s a heartfelt, powerful track that encompasses everything about the band: catchy chorus, deft male/female vocal harmonies and a big riff to hold it all together. Money And Celebrity confirms them as one of the most exciting British bands around and we can only hope it brings them the commercial success they thoroughly deserve. Treasure it, it’s might be all we have for another three years.