Loverdose is one of those great albums which niggles and teases thoughts and senses from start to finish, an expectations dismissing treat which leaves you at the mercy of unpredictability and to varying degrees imaginative adventure. The eighth release from UK noise band Subset, the album is an intriguing and generally enthralling encounter which blends in so many aspects of rock, metal, and punk that it need a mouthful of labels to tag, which of course is never a bad thing.
Subset is a band which if passion meant success would be giants by now, from their first shows in 2009 performing with no money or resources and subsequently playing their first tour a year later by carrying all their equipment and travelling by bus to each venue, the quartet showed their determination. Through gigs, tracks and singles the band continued to build a powerful reputation for their energy and inventive sound whilst the Mahogany and Drenched EPs saw the band garner acclaim even further afield within the UK and US media. From the release of Drenched, vocalist/guitarist Romaine Date, guitarist Robert Robertson, bassist Jay Garrett, and drummer Arran Topper Hartley, embarked on an exhausting regime of touring, promoting, and pushing the presence of Subset further, which included last year a trip to Los Angeles to strengthen contacts and industry links as well as develop an even stronger presence across the Californian college circuit. Loverdose is the next step in their irresistible rise and though arguably its strength labours a little towards its conclusion, the fifteen track provocation is a captivating feast of grunge, punk, alternative rock, and muscular abrasiveness.
From the enticing if eventually underwhelming instrumental In The Patient’s Waiting Room, the release explodes into aggravated enterprise with the roar in the face Carnage, a track which offers scathing vocals alongside mellow harmonies and a tank full of belligerent riffs, thumping rhythms, and coaxing melodic temptation over a punkish snarl. With a Buzzcocks like hook sneakily playing within the more caustic play of guitar and bass there is a persistent lure which marks all great songs whilst the mix of vocal delivery keeps the listener on their toes and fully engaged. The inventive and tauntingly shifting gait of the song furthers its intense appeal and makes a formidable full start to the release.
This great beginning is soon taken further by firstly the excellent Explode, a revolving twist of punk and grunge. It fires up the senses immediately with an aggressive punk probing before slipping into an irresistible psychedelic /grunge whispering range of rock ‘n’ roll which before returning to its raging snarl offers a QOTSA toned excuse to find extra lust for its imaginative presence. Its heights are then seriously tested and stretched by the scintillating Bayonet, the track emerging from a riveting drum tempting into another rock/punk persuasion with extra garage tendencies scuzzing up the air. Feeling like Everclear meets The St Pierre Snake Invasion, the song swaggers and saunters through the ear with a devilment that easily takes controls of limbs and passions, guitars and rhythms carving their permanence in thoughts whilst the bruising vocals dance over the thrilling noise sculpted fire.
Both Jaguar’s Spin and the title track continue the sonic fascination with expertise and ingenuity, the first bringing sinewy riffs in union with a gentle yet forceful melodic flame of guitar grazing and muscular rhythmic framing. Once the riffs develop a chugging insistence, the face of the song changes, though it refuses to relinquish that excellent tempering charm instead allowing it another sultry platform to capture the imagination all over again. Its successor is pure infection, hooks and grooves in mischievous intent with the rhythms to seduce body and voice into a mutual show of energetic contribution. With discord again stroking notes and sounds into eccentric bewitchment and a chorus call that is pure virulence in its simplicity wrapped by an equally potent hook, the track is pure contagion and another big highlight of the release met and matched by next up I’m A Hero In My Mind. With rhythmic juggling from Hartley and rumbling taunting from the bass of Garrett instantly enslaving the passions, the song excites with a siren like mix of Melvins and Late Cambrian, noise pop unafraid to explore a wealth of flavours and spices to create something unique and epidemically solicitous.
From the heavyweight Walk Elephants, its stomping imprint from the intense paws of rhythms ridden by another immediate lure in the gravel weighted vocals, things begin to lose the earlier strength and grip on the passions though there is never a wasted moment offered. This track continues to spiral its way towards sparking a healthy appetite though the vocal approach leaves a weakness at times within the intensive proposition. The likes of the breath stealing punk honed abrasion I Don’t Want To Go Back Home and the similarly uncompromisingly sculpted Second Nature certainly fire up extra hunger for the release, the second especially discovering a hardcore grunt which leaves additional rapture, but as the likes of Remember The Sun, The Man Who Drunk Cried, and Sung, and especially the closing Last Seconds Before Dying Alone make their offering to the ear the album feels like it has lost some of its potency. Each subsequent track though has moments which leave lingering pleasure as with the almost early Adam and the Ants stance sounding introduction and the following darker toned vocals of the first of this trio and the Reuben like bite of its successor, but generally the spark which lit up the rest of the album is missing and one wonders if a different layout of the tracks may have prevented this feeling as the songs certainly leave a happy taste on the senses.
The Underly Records/Reality Records/Venombase Records released Loverdose is a great album overall and one which suggests that Subset have all the invention, craft, and instinctive ability to excite the passions to be a major player in UK rock in the near future. The serious rise of the band starts here and what an impressive turn of the ignition it is.
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