The M's & The Subways

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The Ms

Album: Future Women
Label: Polyvinyl

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The Subways

Album: Young For Eternity
Label: Sire

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The M's aren't a UK rock band, but they do a ripping imitation of one on the title track of their debut album, Future Women, which sounds like an early-'70s Paul McCartney tune upgraded for the post-Strokes era. The Chicago quartet is equally adept at modernist sheen and retro muscle, and they seem almost at odds with themselves on Future Women, swinging from the all-in indie-pop noisemaking of "Underground" to the razor-sharp electric blues of "Mansion In The Valley," as though unsure whether they want to join the Arcade Fire army or fly with Jet. The M's do best when they navigate the straits between art and commerce, as on "My Gun," where they shred and burn the blueprints for the big rock anthem while retaining an institutional memory of its hooky boom. Ultimately, Future Women's fractured personality gives the album drama.

The Subways, meanwhile, are a UK rock band, and one that assumes the mantle of Next Big Britpop Thing with eager ease. The London teenagers' debut, Young For Eternity (out now in America after a successful 2005 European campaign), opens with "I Want To Hear What You Have Got To Say," a jangly whisper-to-a-scream rager that's an instant classic of the form, obviously inspired by a youth spent listening to Pixies, Nirvana, and all the British bands inspired by Pixies and Nirvana. Young For Eternity was produced by post-punk legend Ian Broudie, who supplies the record with more thrust and polish than some of these half-written songs deserve. But The Subways are by no means poseurs. The scrubbed-clean pub-rock of "Mary," the fist-on-brick sonic violence of the title track, the beer-commercial-ready stomp of "Oh Yeah," the arena-filling Oasis swing of "No Goodbyes," and the metallic power-pop of "With You" all sound sturdy enough to withstand the months and years of replays that they're certain to receive.

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