I must admit, I had my reservations about the new Subways album. It's not that they're incapable - their debut Young For Eternity yielded a handful of successful singles and 2008's All Or Nothing was an excellent follow-up - but their limited musical flexibility and the current absence of guitar-based music from the charts seemed to suggest that their relevance was on the wane. Thankfully, though, Money & Celebrity excels in every way that we could have hoped, and although it never really deviates from expectations it nevertheless proves another solid entry into their catalogue of above average pop rock records.
Although they're still very much the same band that made All Or Nothing, there are a few distinct stylistic differences which set them apart. Most of that record's themes centered around frontman Billy Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper's failed relationship, but those wounds have evidently healed over since this album is far more light hearted by comparison. This lack of fuel means that Money & Celebrity often lacks the depth of it's predecessor, though it does as a result make for a more fun listen. Perhaps wisely, the trio never revert from type with a group of predictably structured songs which sprint, and often stumble to reach their knockout choruses. The hooks at hand thankfully ensure that things never get boring, but this ability to foresee whatever comes next does limit the record's excitement levels somewhat.
So amid all these flaws, how come I like this record so much? Well, as already alluded to, the hooks found here are utterly fantastic, and more often than not prove a saving grace, lifting each and every song above the mediocrity they would otherwise be stranded in. Even a cursory look at the track listing will tell you what this record is all about; each and every song is youthful, carefree and to a certain degree mindless, with no exceptions or variety of any sort. In truth, the band sound like they're on auto-pilot most of the time, with no particular highlights among the twelve tracks, and even a few which can cause your eyes to roll.
And yet, every single song here proves immensely solid, all because they're simply so damn catchy. The guitar riffs are breakneck and often exhilarating, delivering the required punch despite sometimes lacking the grit of previous records, and the choruses, while a little over-simplistic never fail to hit the spot. Truthfully, the entire album is little more than an exercise in The Subways doing their thing, but they're not a band that's ever going to push the boundaries or indulge in experiments, so it'd be foolish to expect anything more. Crucially, though, The Subways do what they do very well, and so long as they keep delivering material to this standard there's really no need to complain.
Money & Celebrity is released in the coming week. You can stream it here.