FRANKIE & MASOUD’S first album review! Easy to handle from Suburban Man
Published on January 6th, 2012 | by Frankie and Masoud
Today we review the album ‘Easy to Handle’ by Lo-fi DIY Punk band Suburban Man! Our very first review.
Masoud: Seeing as this is our first review of a band in Kuwait, maybe we should start out being nice?
Frankie: Yes, I’d like to avoid a travel ban if possible.
Frankie: Suburban Man. I like the name. Straightforward, not pretentious. There’s always a temptation for bands to go with something completely obscure like ‘Goats Who Do Accounting’ but these boys seems to have avoided that pitfall. And I love the album cover. It looks like it was hastily put together on a Hawally ‘special’ version of Photoshop. It’s loud, poorly edited and if I’m not mistaken – completely intentional.
Masoud: Exactly! I love the cover and the glaring fonts. And the music itself? There’s a raw sound in there that’s got me thinking of the Ramones or the Pistols. In spite of that, these guys are not pretending to be anyone and you have to give them credit for that. It’s a brave move. With all of that said, does it actually work? Frankie?
Frankie: Well, this album could use a LOT of work. I ’m aware that they are out with a second album, which we will review later. But let’s pretend this is a stand-alone. Yes, I do get nostalgic over Lo-Fi Punk when I hear this album. There’s also a touch of Ozzie about the vocal delivery which makes me grin. But I think that this could have been a much better album.
Masoud: Agreed. While the guitar solos are user-friendly, which I like, they also feel like they were thrown in at the last minute, maybe even improvised a little on the spot. It also seems like there’s a compulsory section for the solo in a lot of these tracks. That’s not quite natural.
Frankie: I know you’re a stickler for that old sound Masoud, but I’d be VERY interested to see what tracks like ‘You become what you Hate’ would sound like with a bit more studio tweaking. That track’s got a well written melody but it’s a few notches off, in terms of vocals. In fact, I wonder what this whole album would sound like if they just sold their souls and went with a more tight and precise sound.
Masoud: Mmm, I dunno. I think I see what you mean. ‘Original Killer’ and ‘Blues of War’ are tracks I think I could really like. It may need something to take away that drum machine feel and a bit of pitch correction to the voice but I don’t think full studio treatment is the way to go.
Frankie: Back to ‘You Become What you Hate’ – I noticed that the guitar lead was hitting some minor pentatonic scales. That’s a bit odd for a major scale song but … I like it. It all comes down to the musician’s intention. If it was intentional then I think these guys have injected some creativity into what can become a very repetitive style. If it was a mistake then it’s just a pretty retarded one to make. Same thing goes with the out of tune guitar on a few tracks.
Masoud: Since when is out of tune good?
Frankie: There’s a time and place for everything. I also REALLY love these lyrics. A lot of local musicians completely lack a sense of poetry. Sometimes, English grammar in Kuwait just makes me want to vomit in my mouth. But these Suburbanites have mostly steered clear of inducing my nausea. They’re talking about social issues and they’re speaking from the heart without coming across as a prissy boy band or as dark worshippers of Mephistopheles. Just the right amount of everything.
Masoud: Definitely. So lets summarise here.
Good points – Suburban Man is bravely risking public scorn by bringing the roots of punk music back to the present. With well written melodies and excellent lyrics, and the odd unconventional creative streak, there’s a lot to like about ’Easy to Handle’. Sure, a lot of people are not going to like this album at all, but Punk music has never been about mass appeal. If you think its repetitive and induces a migraine then try youtubing some Ramones or the ‘copulation’ Pistols (see what I did there?). It’s more about the crazy energy and live shows than the albums anyway – that’s punk baby!
Frankie: Speaking of that energy, this album could use a lot more. I’d like to see them moving towards more exciting rhythms to get those fists pumping. The lead guitar needs to be more deliberate in terms of what’s being played and when. My strongest piece of advice is, give in just a tiny bit and get some help with correcting vocal levels and pitching. But overall I would say – Punk lives to fight another day.
Masoud: God Save the !£$% Queen!