The Subways - All or Nothing
While the Pigeon Detectives seem intent on releasing a new album every year with the same songs just played with a different chord or the ground breaking use of an acoustic guitar for a song; it has been three years since the release of The Subways’ patchy debut album Young For Eternity. Backed by legendary producer and drummer Butch Vig, they have come up with an album that is heavier, bolder and more consistent than their debut album.
Opening single Girls and Boys signals their intent from the start and comes equipped with riffs that Vig’s other band Nirvana would be proud of. If you are not even tempted to move your head during the final 30 seconds when Billy lets rip, then you need to check your pulse. From then on, there is no let up as you are launched straight into Kalifornia with its defiant lyrics of “I will fight/And I will never be defeated”. The message is clear, The Subways are back and they are not going to be ignored.
The pace is slowed a bit with their latest single Alright with its beautiful backing vocals from Charlotte that would make anyone feel more than alright, but then you come to this album’s Oh Yeah. The chorus of Shake Shake is insanely catchy that you will be singing it by the end of the first listen, it’s that good.
The next two tracks, one of which is the title track, let you catch your breath with their gentler pace and are least memorable at least on first listen until you get into the lyrics. This is especially the case with All Or Nothing which contains a brilliant put down with “Climb down from your high horse/Worse happens in cold wars”.
I Won’t Let You Down is my personal favourite on the album as it was the first new song that grabbed me when I saw them earlier this year at ULU. It’s a wonderful feeling when you hear new songs live and then they don’t disappoint you on record by being over produced (yes I'm looking at you Kate Nash) but it sounds as fantastic on record as it does live. It’s bound to have festival crowds everywhere chanting and moshing away.
Billy’s growing maturity as a songwriter is showcased superbly with the brutally honest Strawberry Blonde. I could quote the entire song but its impact is even more powerful if you are just listening to it first time. Instead I’ll just tease you with this coupling “Stroke by stroke/You fill my empty soul with colour”.
It’s a shame that after the highlight of Strawberry Blonde, the album does kind of drop off but not to the extent of their debut. Always Tomorrow and Lost Boy are strong album tracks but they just lack the wow factor which the rest of the album has and, if anything, the bonus track on the limited edition This Is The Club For People Who Hate People should be in their place.
I have no doubt that come the end of the year, All Or Nothing will be near the top of my favourite albums of the year. It’s the album of a band that has come through so much together and came out stronger on the other side. It comes equipped with more hooks than a butchers shop and is as loud as you want it to be. Basically, it’s just brilliant.