In '08, House of Heroes released their third national release, though it played out more like the world's introduction to the band. And what a grand introduction it was. Though they had been making innovative, note-worthy music for years prior, The End Is Not the End was the one that made people finally pay heed to what the boys from Columbus, Ohio had been dishing out all along. It was finally impossible to ignore, and garnered universal acclaim. In most circles, it was regarded as one of the best albums of the year (Some even going so far as to proclaim it the hands-down best album of the year). Dark and intricate, fun and energetic, awe-inspiring and anticipatory... The End Is Not the End had it all. By album's end, the only remaining question was... What would the Heroes do next?
Something surprising, it turns out. Their follow-up, Suburba, is a straight up rock 'n roll fest that never stops delivering punches. This one isn't a deep thinker, or a slow build up, or a dark, gritty look at death and war and the afterlife. This one is a celebration of youth in suburban America, and essentially plays out like a 45 minute soundtrack for the American Teenager and the American Tradition. The subject matter doesn't necessarily lend itself to the most thought provoking lyrics, but the band deals with each theme in a clever, backhanded way that will get your wheels turning, nonetheless.
The keyword here is fun. Suburba is one of the most fun listens you'll get this whole summer, which makes it a shame that we're only just now getting it as summer is beginning to wrap up. The bottom line is that The End Is Not the End was such an intriguing, almost-concept album that the carefree nature of Suburba almost feels wrong. But the thing is, it's such an enjoyable listen that you get over this sense of near-guilt before you're more than three tracks into their latest effort.
Whether it's a behind the bleachers school fight ("God Save The Foolish Kings") or the economics of falling in love ("Love Is For The Middle Class"), Suburba is a fast moving rock record that pays homage to the likes of The Beatles, Queen, and even Tom Petty. The sixties and eighties are paid their due, with that quintessential House of Heroes flair that makes this one a joy to listen to from beginning to end.
It's not quite the groundbreaker that its predecessor was, but then again, it's so radically different, that comparisons aren't really even fair. On its own merit, Suburba is by far the most fun you will have this summer, with enough meat to keep you coming back listen after listen. Rock 'n roll hasn't sounded this good in a long time. Suburba is leaps and bounds better than any competition for your hard earned American dollars this year.
Writer's Note: And as best I can tell, House of Heroes' label asked them to record a song they could pitch to CHR stations, so they wrote a song about LOST ("Constant"). You just really have to respect that.- PReview date: 7/6/10; Review date: 7/31/10, written by Josh Taylor of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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