Suburbs: “Sound of the Sea” – both nostalgic and adventurous!

Suburbs is an indie rock band from Scheveningen, Netherland launched in 1995. The band that has its roots in the eighties and nineties achieved national exposure when they won the national contest “De Grote Prijs van Nederland” (The Grand Prize of the Netherlands), the largest and longest-running music competition in the country.  As of the summer of 2013 Suburbs has started a new chapter. Lead singer Arie Spaans and 2 early band members set to work to bring their old sound back. The following year they started dropping singles and video clips leasing to their mini EP “Masters” in 2016. In 2017 they released another mini EP entitled “Paralyzed”, and then went on in 2018 to release their first song – “de Zang van de Zee” – in Dutch. In 2019 Suburbs published the English version along with 7 other tracks, which form the album “Sound of the Sea”.

Ever hear a band that has been around for a while and think: “How have I not heard about these guys!” That’s the case with Suburbs. The 8 songs are amazing straight through, if you haven’t picked up this album or checked these guys out, you really need to.

“Sound of the Sea” has a scope that may prove intimidating at first, demanding a good chunk of time before you start to feel its arc, hear its through-lines, notice the clever textural or compositional decisions you expect from a band that has such a long heritage.

Once you process all the details of the album’s inception, once you wade through the full breadth of it and start to pick up on the melodic phrasings or lyrics that stick with you, you have a rewarding new project from the Suburbs.

“Sound of the Sea” somehow simultaneously feels like another nostalgic assortment of well-made classic indie-rock tracks, and something that is much more adventurous. You’ll notice how the Suburbs are pushing and pulling at various elements of their sound, seeing how different tones and textures can bring out different colors.

They start with the overdriven crunch of “Paralyzed” – an impressionistic track that captures the powerful undercurrent of their rhythm section. “Resolutions” is a breezy melodic arrangement that represents the sunnier alter ego of its creators.

“The Rise and Fall of Everything” is a churning, shape-shifting current that sneakily becomes one of the album’s most intriguing tracks. “The Sound of the Sea” is one of those songs that initially passes by as a typical indie rock track, until a certain passage grabs you and pulls you in.

The lead singer’s customary ability to take pastel images and, with that melodious matter-of-fact gravity in his delivery, make them profound, adds a captivating aspect to the Suburbs music. It also helps that he has a far-reaching vocal range, which is impacting.

All of these elements are indelibly forged into the nostalgic sounding “Some Kind of Relief” and the sprawling expansiveness of “Forgotten Dreams”. “Face The World” crackles with an anxious energy, where the composition takes on an urgency through the pounding rhythm and driving guitars.

“Staring at the Face of God” is set to a gorgeous, steady, acute melody and arrangement that serves to highlight the emotional intensity of the lyrics. All throughout, “The Sound of the Sea” is a testament to the band’s strength and the fact that they continue to make compelling work, and the album has moments that truly transcend.

There’s also the meticulous musicianship each member of Suburbs contributes, together creating a sonic atmosphere rich with crisp percussion, forlorn bass motifs, and deconstructed guitar lines. The vocals inevitably serve as the glue that binds the Suburbs’ sound.


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