Nostalgia is a dangerous thing, but maybe that’s why we all love it so much. Sometimes, it’s easier to look at the past with rose-tinted glasses than to put on the real glasses your optometrist gave you, especially when there’s work to be done. Other times, though, that nostalgia lights a fire under your ass and fuels you to write a super-sleek indie pop record. This is certainly the case on Suburban Living’s Almost Paradise, which sees the newly christened four-piece taking their sound out of Wesley Bunch’s bedroom and into the big city.
Sometimes the transition from solo project to fully-realized band is a rocky one, but here, the expansion manifests itself in more subtle ways.The drums kick harder, there’s a greater emphasis on guitar, and overall, the songs have a more “in the moment” feel to them. Other than that added sonic muscle, though, the project remains largely unchanged, and that’s a good thing.
Tense, exhilarating tracks like “Come True” and the opener “If It’s Real” are the perfect soundtrack for a midnight drag race, but it’s not all blood-pumping viscera. On more dramatic tracks like “Lovely Times” and “Two Years”, Suburban Living almost approach power ballad territory, providing a nice counterpoint to the more upbeat tracks. With the extra elbow room that comes a long with a full length, the band is able to stretch out more and experiment with a greater variety of textures, like the springy acoustic guitar on “Jenny’s Song” and the hand percussion flourishes on “Walk Away”. They cap the album off when its at its funkiest with the deft, groovy “How You Feel”. With its nimble bass line and infectious hook, it’s a definitive step forward for the projection. Bunch may still have an eye on the past, but with the help of the rest of the band, Suburban Living’s future is starting to look pretty good.
Stream Almost Paradise below, via Bandcamp, and pick up a physical copy via 6131 Record’s web store. Suburban Living will celebrate the album’s release this Saturday with a set at The Foundry. You can find more information here.