THE SUBS: Subculture (Lektroluv)


Posted on Mar 11th 2009 10:44 pm

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The Subs: Subculture

Lektroluv 2009
09 Tracks. 47mins23secs

There’s plenty to debate about the current crop of brash electro-house acts. Anyone with an ear from sound has been in pain over the walloping overcompression on their albums (and come on guys, recognize the difference between headphones and a club already), and there’s the argument that this whole movement is all style and no substance, more concerned with donning the latest neon fashion atrocities than making something meant to last. Unfortunately, both these common critiques ring true in droves for Subculture, the debut full-length release from It-group The Subs.

To begin with, The Subs have certainly done their homework. Subculture or overflowing with hoover stabs and vocal rushes that attempt to recapture the energy of the early nineties, the last period of popularity for this kind of big, dumb raver fun. But the last generation of ravers also had something to stick in their music, and the majority of Subculture passes by like it’s building up to some incredible peak that never happens. Kiss My Trance, the lead single, is public enemy no.1 here: fat-bottomed synths stacked one after another until the tension renders the track mostly noise, with an uninspired noodling synth progression for a payoff. It’s anyone’s guess as to why this single put The Subs on the map, but scanning the names who’ve supported it brings up the usual nu-rave suspects, including Boys Noize, Fake Blood, Simian Mobile Disco and A-Trak, among others.

The Kiss My Trance formula is the MO for the remainder of the album, which in effect means that The Subs are rolling the dice each time on the long shot that banging on a synthesizer keyboard is going to produce something worth paying attention to amidst all the din of orgasmic shouts and tin-can, too-loud drums. Unsurprisingly, the most interesting piece here is Breathe, a cover of The Prodigy’s hit. The Subs, in keeping with their ethos of doing everything louder and with more bass, attempt to up the ante on intensity of the original, a bad move with results in unnecessary breakdowns and a harsh ducking effect on the bass which comes off like a tacky house cover of a rock track (which it kind of is).

It’s clear that, like many of their contemporaries, The Subs have based much of their formula on the kind of punk and metal where the bigger the better, forget anything melodic or subtle. This isn’t to say that electronic dance music requires subtlety, and the aforementioned Simian Mobile Disco have a pretty decent formula for crafting infectiously overdriven neo-hip-house. But listening to Subs track like My Punk, I get the feeling I’m hearing some kids messing around with some new synth patches and software, rather than a finished product that’s been afforded the necessary thought and detail to make a consistent and memorable release.

The Subs have the style and presentation down, and they have all the right tools to make some epic, noisy electro-house, but Subculture instead finds them content to make adolescent wankery like Fuck That Shit, with a repeated title phrase that goes for shocking (or at least jarring and exciting), but ends up sounding like a naïve teenager throwing a tantrum. This wouldn’t be the biggest issue, were it not for the fact that The Subs’ melodies are similarly immature. Here’s hoping that next time they can budge out of compositional arrested development.


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Comments (3)

3 Responses to “THE SUBS: Subculture (Lektroluv)”

  1. perttoon 20 Mar 2009 at 9:51 pm

    lovely review…this album sucks! the subs are really bad!!!!!

  2. KAtrienon 27 Mar 2009 at 1:44 pm

    i like the subs a lot…;)

    I’m sorry, but this sounds like a frustrated journalist…


  3. johny bankson 01 Sep 2010 at 2:41 am

    this is the first music i have heard like this and i love it, most music i listen too feels flat were as when i hear this it souds like its coming from all directions and i can see it, im more into synths now, also breathe i reckon is one of the worst songs on here, i like the creative video game feel they have like in the last song, maybe you have heard better stuff in the past that i havent heard so if you have can you let me know of something to hear cause i love this synth sound. i dont usually like techno or whatever this is called but this stuff actually feels like to me it has thought put into it and does have creative melodies, some songs get a bit rapetative with the ‘fuck that shit’ stuff but those are my least favourites. anyway i liked it and dont really get this review.