The ever readable, captivating and challenging Fungalpunk website has inevitably reviewed the new Subs album...
UK SUBS - YELLOW LEADER
The years have flown by, the highs and lows taken and overcome with a resolute focus that has seen many fall by the wayside but the machine that is the UK Subs rock forth. I remember chatting to the leader of the pack, one Charlie Harper, many years back about whether or not the band would ever complete their journey of alphabetical releases or would time deal them a cruel blow and bring about an abrupt termination. A wry smile, a glint in the peeper and I was assured that there was no rush and the book-like journey would have a full compliment of sonic chapters done all in good punky time. All these years on and we are now turning the page to part 'Y' with 'Yellow Leader' the latest effort and one, as of writing, is being gushed over by old stalwarts and modernised fans as well as many new band wagon comrades on a cheap trip to 'Popularville'. Having grown with the developing tunes and seen some distinct hits and some veritable shits along the way I take this one in my stride and as an ardent Subs fan I go in shaking free any crappy bias and slanted subjectivity - it would be rude not to. So in for a penny, in for a pound (£12.99 in fact) and I do my bit with reputation up for a ragging, pass me the skin thickener please - again!
The commencement comes via 'Sick Velveteen', a song with a rugged bass driven start until a pause comes, the main thread is caught and the first globule of vocality is spat into your face. Nasally mouthed off with a radioed edge, guitars sprung and under control as well as the skins which are uniform and stung to attention when necessary this, however way you look at it, is a primarily bass driven number and one, that for me at least, doesn't get the CD off to the most exciting of starts. It is a tight and efficient number with usual Sub-oid essences but I expected more and indeed needed more - we are at the penultimate album stage here and all hands to the deck with a 'what the heck' it should be - hey ho. 'Artificial Intelligence' pursues and in some ways poses a question of the advantage of being a created being without emotion or inflicted bias. A nice viewpoint to take with the song easily picked up on and joined in with. The structure, for the most part, is traditionally basic and has an echoed methodology that rises from the rhythmic substrate. Between tamed verses come energising musical interludes that awaken the senses with the familiar Subsy textures and nuances. Again it ain't the most exciting and original outburst you'll hear and falls in-line with many predecessors and, in fact, goes on a little too long but it warms the cockles of any old fan and gets away with its tidy delivery. The closing tear up keeps us on our toes - a good thing.
More cultured and erudite wordage comes via the minor gem known as 'Bordeaux Red', a smart song that twists its serpentine ass in many ways and weaves an anti-war tale in impressive style. The musicians are kept alert and pull out many episodes of angularity with drums called upon to move in many ways so as to keep the architecture of the song appealing. A fully rocked up exponent offering with the procedure dodging application well received and applauded and stinking of more punk rock ethos than you may give it credit for. A thinking man's product, not a stinking mans piss patch! 'Chemical' cuts out a deliberate furrow via the opening bars before the vocals dreamily infuse the mix with a far away, sub-psychedelic feeling that swirls the set palette, even more so through the chorus. Drugged up zombification seems the intent amidst a chuggery that is mechanised and unyielding and I reckon the target aimed for is struck with capable accuracy. Not the most thrilling track in my opinion and one that is not saved by the guitar wank off, reliable rhythm and by being the predecessor to the fine typical spillage known as 'Deconstruct'. This is one of the reasons many of us are Subs fans, a cut out example of what the underlying vibe is that turns us on. It is a product that has an acoustic catch-line that has been well and truly flogged over the years but never so impressively as the way the Subs do it. The stated and raved wordage comes with flaring nostrils borne of ill temper and the pounding backdrop of sound is emphasised by a tribal drumbeat that will get our most primitive pogofied passions pulsating. It is a terse offering, donates nothing original and never intends to but, what a decent bout of basic blasting it is. The counterpunch is the slower and drawling 'Diatribe', a textured tune with a trilling undercore between regulated pulses that wear a total belt of safety that keeps all areas in secured check. A melodic massage is given with a comfortable balance of all tonality throughout and the band members keep themselves very much in check and tidily solid. A sweet trickle of a tune with a gentle nudge in the nadgers of the propagandist throwbacks (many of em' about tha' knows).
So the first set of 6 done and a hit and slightly miss affair but very much injected with familiar strains and sonic suggestions that will turn on the converted and the ones peeking in for the first time.
A nice fistful of 6 next and we open with the gratuitously entitled 'Feed The Whore', a metallic spasm wank of uneven wayfaring with free flowing infecting lyrics pouring from an open wound and causing much consternation no doubt. A very 'anti' song crawling along on defiant knees against the stampeding hoards who have heads screwed on backwards, eyes focused on self-need and desires not contributing one iota of goodness to the world in general. A dogged and defiant construct, an opposing piece and one I find quite worthwhile. 'Heathens' is a rib-rattling affair with a vicious anti-religion attack that, like most of these songs, mentions Christ but omits Allah, Buddah, Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti and other Gods - come now, let us have balance and not fear! The effort is a storming disjointed tear-up and a rally call to many non-believers to start to believe...in oneself. From the Tommy Gun mow down commencement through the consistent rage and rip up and toss hammering this one pummels the guts without thought for procedure and orthodox routine - I like that. 'Prime Evil blazes the set trail with a spiralling construct that twists through the innards, probes about and causes a melodic malaise that takes a trifle adjustment of the zoning lugs. Tempestuous, perturbed, skewed and rhythmically tetchy this throws the CD off balance and is one of those moments to get the nerve endings nettled - like many I reckon this will be enjoyed when the mood is right and slammed off when the head is awry! The same can't be said of the classic 'Rebellion Song, an effort I have recently reviewed on an Urban Dogs release and one that still has me convinced. If you haven't read the review of the aforementioned Dogs CD then tough shite - I ain't repeating myself but I will reiterate that this is an acoustic gem.
On a fair roll I continue with fingertips flashing and earholes ringing with 'Sin City Blues', 'Slave', 'Big Bug' and 'Suicidal Girl' all bound together in a big meaty morsel of assessing goodness - oh ye overfed twats! The first song of nutritious noise is a well hung rockin' dude with a well swung member of melody and big pendulous testes of ravenous relish thriving with life and buzzing with Harmonica assisted fervour. The buzz of the song is agreeable and only surpassed by the chasing ditties voracious vocal style that gobbles up all in its path and thrives further due to the marauding intent of sound and the hectic, epileptic savagery that throws huge haymaking lines at the traffickers of people and who delight at the shackling of others - cunts! An excellent boom completing a rewarding duo of dinnage with the third track, 'Big Bug', changing tack, being soaked in lovey dovey leanings and despite having much sonic strength not really grappling me to the floor and forcing a submission of appreciation. The lyrics are a bit weak, the delivery a bit slushy and the whole construct just doesn't tickle the emotive spot sought - a personal slant as per, agree or disagree at your leisure, I gotta go take my own honest route. 'Suicidal Girl' closes the quartet with an open, earthy and transparent hunk of beefy riffage that cuts a dash in established customary fashion with verses shouted and stated and choruses as simple as can be and just keeping the impetus going. A musical interlude, a hop back on track and done - clean as a whistle.
Striding forth to the impending finale with 'Virus' infecting the way with its spores of doom uncontrollably rampaging through provinces of decency and neighbourhoods of less aggressive noise-making. A real stink kicking assault that comes at you like the ancient pugilistic terror Harry Greb', otherwise known as 'The Pittsburgh Windmill', an all action fighter who was carved with unpredictability and had a swarming style that kept one reeling. The same can be said of the hard slamming chaser 'Cry Wolf', another very animated piece of dinnage that pulverises with activity and consumes with unyielding greed. Harper gobs off with is usual lungful of spirit whilst his accomplished cohorts cacophonise the acoustic arena after setting up power lunges behind wham bam jabs that get the attention just prior to the all out blitz. Flurries are frequent, set up straight armed slammers subtly thrown in - the end result is a demanding song that works you over and leaves a bruising impression. Out of sync next for a ghostly drift of misty tones and coffee table cruising with a necrophiliac’s treat smouldering slowly and emitting an incensed aroma of dreamy sinisterism. The overall feel may appear comforting but the subject matter is far from it - an odd moment but worthy of its place due to the angularity it offers. The unexpected cut off is a mistake though and a drift out and then a rise to the following instrumental burst would have been far better. '611' is a high flying closure that would have opened the CD in glorious style too (worth a thought for the next one) and with all players firing hard this is an ideal way to punctuate a solid CD - choice.
So there we go, another effective explosion from the UK Subs, a band I adore and one that I have kept tabs on since the 70's and have thoroughly enjoyed the ride with. This hasn't had me in a state of untold gushing, it isn't the bands best release but, at such a late stage in proceedings, it emphasises that the band have still got it, keep the passion raging and are still liable to keep you excited and enthused as much as ever. A few lows, many highs, a personal viewpoint and no fuckin' lies - as Fungalised as you like and if in fact you don't like it...do your fuckin' own review you lazy twats!