Bands whose members are composed of teenagers usually don’t have the best track records. Take, for example, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Silverchair and Menudo. Maybe it’s because those youngsters try to act and perform as if they are years ahead of their ages and end up making a shitty record in the process. Then there are the Subways, a much buzzed-about U.K. trio of nineteen-year-old singer/guitarist Billy Lunn, his girlfriend (or as they say in the U.K., bird), eighteen-year-old bassist Charlotte Cooper, and his brother, seventten-year-old drummer Josh Morgan (he kept the family name; Lunn adopted his mother’s maiden name in tribute to his grandfather).
So far, the press is labeling the Subways as “sexy” thanks to the brothers’ boyish charm and Cooper’s mousy, cutie-pie looks. That label can be rather dangerous at this point in their careers, because it tends to overshadow their music. But what makes the Subways stand apart with their brand of angst-ridden, razor garage-rock guile is that they truly sound like teenagers. It gives their music not only a sense of genuine growing pains, but also a youthful energy that makes their songs rebellious and fortifies their rock ‘n’ roll spirit. The power-chord-pop barnburner “Rock and Roll Queen,” with lyrics such as “You are so cool/ You are so rock and roll,” would sound cheesy from another band, but something in Lunn’s vocal reprieve makes it sound so, uh, rock and roll.
Opener “I Want to Hear What You Have to Say” shows Cooper and Lunn’s solid vocal execution. But it also evokes that feeling of adolescence when you don’t want to be a teenager anymore, but realize that adulthood is nothing but more responsibilities – and maybe a part of you really doesn’t want to grow up. Cooper sings like a baby Siouxsie on the disgruntled and rowdy ripper “Lines of Light,” a song most apt for a bunch of aimless teens whose ideal of being antisocial is loitering outside of their local convenient store. Nobody’s young for eternity, but for this album’s thirty-five minutes, you may feel like you are.