Music Review—Uncertain Joys

Album: Uncertain Joys
Artist: The Subways

UK indie-punks, The Subways, have released their fifth album, Uncertain Joys.  The album is available for streaming anywhere you get your music.

The Subways were formed in 2002, in Hertfordshire, England.  The band consists of Billy Lunn on guitar and vocals, Charlotte Cooper on bass and vocals, and Camille Phillips on drums.  Uncertain Joys was recorded and produced by Billy Lunn himself, which I think is pretty cool.

Uncertain Joys consists of twelve tracks: You Kill My Cool, Love Waiting on You, Uncertain Joys, Incantation, Black Wax, Lavender Amelie, Fight, Influencer Killed The Rock Star, Swanky Al, The Devil and Me, Joli Coeur, and Futures.

The songs “Black Wax”, “Love Waiting on You”, “Fight”, and “You Kill My Cool” were released as singles in 2022, all of which have music videos available on the band’s YouTube.  I have to say, the music video for “Love Waiting on You” is absolutely adorable.

I previously reviewed “Black Wax”, which starts off as the kind of heavy rock song you can feel in your bones, and I was into it right off the bat.  Unfortunately, as the song progressed, I thought it fell flat.  I kept waiting for something to happen—a drop, a face-melting guitar solo, some power from the vocals—but it never did.  Listening to “Black Wax” feels like teetering on the edge of a cliff but never actually falling.

After listening to the rest of the album, it seems like this is a consistent problem with The Subways.  It’s not that that tracks aren’t good, they’re just lacking a little “oomph”.  I think “mom rock” is a good descriptor for The Subways.  You know, the kind of rock music 40-something suburban white women listen to.

However, two of the songs in particular are especially off-putting.

The first, “The Devil and Me” seems to be a homage to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band, or perhaps “Tribute” by Tenacious D (although The Subways don’t actually acknowledge this anywhere).  Unfortunately, I just don’t think you can compete with either of those songs, and The Subways’ version didn’t seem to fit within the rest of the album’s style.  I didn’t like it.

The second, “Fight” is an aggressive social justice anthem—or at least, it’s trying to be.  From a musical standpoint, for a track that was supposed to be an angry punk anthem, it was still lacking that “oomph”.  More importantly, this song was obviously written during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, with lyrics like, “And, now, we all stand up/Join me, and take a knee/Say each and every name/All those who could not breathe.”

I have a hard time when artists, celebrities, social media influencers, and corporations briefly jump on the bandwagon of a popular social justice issue because it looks good for the “brand”.  I can’t find any information about The Subways doing any other activist work for Black Lives Matter, and from what I can tell, none of the proceeds from “Fight” were donated to applicable social causes.  This is particularly interesting considering the line of the song, “There’s no mystery to where we suddenly find ourselves/White men are getting rich off POC in cells”.  Are The Subways not two white women and a white man profiting off the George Floyd tragedy without actually contributing to the social justice movement attempting to create change? Food for thought.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of Uncertain Joys. 

Check out The Subways on their website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.