Philly’s Suburban Living Releases their Best Album Yet
How To Be Human
Links: Official Site | Bandcamp | Egghunt Records
It’s not that it has been over three years since Suburban Living conceptualized new material, it’s that it’s been over three years since Suburban Living dropped Almost Paradise. Shortly after the band’s sophomore release, they began working on material for How To Be Human, and natural progression would have been made; however, something happened. “My whole life went on hold,” said Wesley Bunch.
New Year’s Eve 2018, a house fire destroyed Bunch’s home and left him with some critical life decisions. By the time he resettled, he was touring as the bassist for shoegaze band Swirlies. Being in that band influenced him to revisit and pursue material for a new Suburban Living album and turn these songs into something far beyond what the songs were originally capable of.
If I were to speculate and conjure up a Marvel Comics “What If?” scenario, I think fate, as unfortunate as it portrayed for Bunch, plays into the perception that How To Be Human is the best Suburban Living album yet. Just digging into the opener of “Falling Water,” the music is amplified and overwhelms your senses. Once you experience the band at this level, it’s hard to go back.
The songs on here are interchangeable based on personal experience. That stems from Bunch’s ability to write in third person. It’s a first for the band, and the style gives the music a universal dimension. With “Main Street,” the song could be any town or city and during any season.
The sunlit synths are stark and haunting. It takes me back to those days as a teenager and taking fall drives up Observatory Road, cruising through the lush forestry that surrounds the twisted back country. Back then it was The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead in the cassette player. If it was now, it would be this.
“Glow” extends the sentiment with beautiful electrified dream pop expressions that fall into the shadows. And even though “Indigo Kids” sounds like a preset demo song to a Casio keyboard from 1985, the sluggish time signature is meditative. With Peter Pantina’s hollowed-out bass riffs, I’m not sure if I am going to hear Robert Smith step up to the mic or Bunch. But damn when Bunch sings, a world of memories and feelings come rushing in like a warm blanket on a cold, snowy day. What could make this song better? Add in a sax that stands out only to complement what everyone else is doing. It’s sheer brilliance caught unexpectedly.
Over three years is exactly what was needed to make one the top albums of 2020 and How To Be Human deservedly falls into that category.
How To Be Human Infomercial
1. Falling Water
2. Main Street
4. Indigo Kids
6. 16 Hours
7. No Roses
8. Video Love (T’s Corner)
9. Once You Go