Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Subset's fuzzed-out rock catches my attention

December 3, 2011

If you’re going to rock me these days, you have to have an intriguing guitar tone, an engaging vocalist, hummable melodies and energy to spare. Brits Subset have all of these requirements, and as a result you’re hearing about their Mahogany EP right now. The four-piece sounds like “Song 2”-style Blur as filtered through early ’00s Strokes, which means that they pump out the guitar-heavy pop songs with cool factor intact.

“Desire” is the best example of their mash-up, as the vocals strike the right balance between unhinged and sly, while the gleefully fuzzed-out guitars throw down chord riffs and single-note melodies. Similarly, opener “Lucid Dreamers” has track-meet-tempo verses that recall Jimmy Eat World’s huge guitars vs. low-key vocals tension in the best way possible. The overly dark “We Are Subset” is ironically the least like what Subset sounds like on the EP and “Wyoming” sounds far too much like Blur for comfort, but by the time they wrap it up with the dance beat of “Give or Take,” the four Brits have won my affection. If you’re into Young the Giant or early ’00s rock, you’ll be all over Subset.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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