By Alessandro Improta
After making a return to the local music scene in the winter of 2014, Go Suburban has been working hard to reinvent themselves and find their voice. Brian Swanson (guitar, vocals), his brother Dave Swanson (drums, backing vocals), and their high school friend, Nick Park (Bass, keys), have been rejuvenated by the band’s addition of Brian’s 14 year old son, Jonas (guitar). With Jonas’ influences now influencing the others, their sound has morphed into their new album, WWDK (What We Didn’t Know).
After recording their first EP in studio, Go Suburban decided to go the DIY route to record their first full length. In May 2015 they built a home studio in Dave’s basement. From June 2015 to January 2016 they experimented their way to the album we have now. While not exactly a concept album, common themes and gapless playback give it the feel of a whole rather than ten separate tracks.
We start the album with the very ethereal “Reverse Culture.” Brian’s almost brooding vocal performance here is perfect. Maybe it’s because I find myself in this situation all the time, but the lyrics really speak to me. The song seems to speak about how life often tricks us into losing our wonder and appreciation for living. With lyrics like, “Full immersion to the madness of our subversion,” and “We’re drinking what they’re selling, yeah, we’re stepping in line,” it paints the picture of someone unhappily conforming to societal expectations instead of doing what they wish they could. I think that is something we can all relate to.
This tone continues throughout the album with some of my favorite tracks being “Circles,” “Broken Mirrors,” and the title track, “WWDK.” However, my favorite track is the closer, “Ashes to Ashes.” This is such an honest look at life:
“Crushed beneath the weight of our own conceit, We cry to a God that we trampled beneath our feet, With bloodshot eyes wide open, We watched the years disappear.”
Musically, this song is about as emotional as you can get. The consistent build starts off with nothing but a finger-picked electric guitar, and exactly 3 minutes later has reached a frenetic pace including 16th notes on the toms from the drums, fast, delayed guitars, stirring harmonies in the vocals, and synth soaring over the top of it all. The bass line here really holds everything together. Its solidity reminds you that this, yes, this is the same song you were just listening to a couple minutes ago. This song is an absolute journey.
In Provo, it is easy to expect good music from the small list of names that get tossed around a lot within the music scene, but Go Suburban is a perfect example of the depth and variety of talent that exists here. Though they are not one of the better known bands in the area – yet – Go Suburban has proven with this album that the talent in the Provo music scene can often exceed its ability to showcase it. I can wholeheartedly give this album a rave review. Go Suburban is pushing the boundaries here, and is making their own brand of music. Beyond the music, they have honest lyrics that are delivered honestly. The band said, “We hope everyone who listens can feel the spirit, emotion, and energy put into this record.” We absolutely can, and that is what makes this such a great listening experience. I can’t wait to go to the album release show.
Make sure to like Go Suburban on Facebook. WWDK drops tomorrow, April 15th, at Velour Live Music Gallery. Go Suburban will be performing alongside The LoveStrange, Okkah, and Tal Haslam. Tickets are $8 at the door (cash only) and online at 24tix.com. Check out their first single from the album, “War of Wars,” below.