Suburban Living’s self-titled debut LP (PaperCup Music) is a memorable showcase of moody dream pop and lush emotives. The anticipated follow-up to the well-received Cooper’s Dream EP and 2013’s “Always Eyes” 7” single, Suburban Living enhances a sound familiar to fans of Beach Fossils, while channeling the percussive pulse and melancholy of post-punk legends like Joy Division.
Opening with “Faded Lover,” the album’s first track unfolds with guttural riffs and an unrelenting backbeat that perfectly frames frontman Wesley Bunch’s emotionally wrought yet controlled vocals. The song falls somewhere between the driving tempo of Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Stars Are Stars” and The Cure’s “Primary,” making it a suitable metaphor for willing romantics. A crystallization of everything quintessential about the dissonance of post-punk and the catchy melodics of shoegaze, “Faded Lover” lingers like a ghost with its listener, dissipating into a silence that begs for subsequent returns.
“New Strings” impresses with cinematic reverb and percussion that gradually swells into a melodic narrative that proves to be just as upbeat as it is brooding. Bunch’s knack for crafting duality and juxtaposition keeps tracks like it from becoming merely sentimental. The sincerity of Bunch’s diction is one equally fostered by disenchantment and passion alike. As if tapping into the emotional core of what made fellow shoegazers The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart so relatable, Suburban Living’s “New Strings” manages to tug at the heartstrings without playing puppeteer.
“Wasted” kick-starts with beach-y chords and mellow diction that intensifies midway through the song’s duration via shouts that seem to beckon a sense of urgency in Bunch’s audience. With ease, it signals a shift in the album’s tone preparing listeners for the more subdued yet earnest “Dazed,” whose instrumentation embodies the state evoked by its namesake. As if it were a millennial epilogue to the sentiments of Psychocandy, the song proves to be just as pensive in its own rite. With jangly hooks and introspective vocals, it feels synonymous with early cuts by Real Estate or a kindred spirit with the unabashed sincerity of the Stone Roses. Here, Bunch is anything but withholding.
The dance-y synth and cadence of “No Fall” perfectly compliments the track’s energy. Suburban Living’s sixth track is a probable favorite for fans. “Hotel Unizo” serves as an instrumental prelude to the album’s closer, “Different Coast,” which is similarly orchestrated in the sense that it captivates. Fashioned by straightforward feelings that confess of vulnerability and modes of coping, “Different Coast” is deliberately constructed to mesmerize its listener towards catharsis.
In the end, it is clear that Suburban Living’s latest release is the beginning of something monumental. - Dianca Potts