Advertisement

Album Review: Subatlantic — ‘Villains’

  • 46
    Shares


Subatlantic is not a band that would be described as impatient. Although they have been together since 2009, playing occasional gigs that secured their place on the Quad Cities music scene, they just released their debut EP, Not Louder, But Closer, in 2015.

You can hear the genesis of their new album Villains on the EP — in fact, two of the songs come from it — but Villains is a more focused, polished effort.

The architecture of the songs leave big spaces between each instrument. The huge reverb on this album implies a church-sized room without sacrificing the intimate nature of the songs. The big and chiming bell tones of the guitars provide the musical melody as well as the countermelody to Rebecca Rice’s reaching and often vulnerable soprano.

Adam Kaul’s lead guitar provides solo arpeggiated runs, but never breaks into lick-and-riff guitar cliché. The rest of the band provides surrounding musical embrace to Rice’s emotional testimony, but it also lifts her to center stage.

Track four, “State of the Birds,” is a perfect example. The big chorus is crepuscular fingers of light through the clouds lifted by harmonies that sound inspired by 10CC’s “I’m Not In Love.” “And, anyway, who will take the fall for this one?” Rice sings. “You persist with the questions only you can answer.”

“Subatlantic” references the current geologic age within the Holocene epoch. This is when humans industrialized — the peak of both our ability to innovate and the resulting ecological crises. That appreciation of the ironic and sadly poetic perspective of human evolution is a fitting label for their art, which has echoes of the alternative invasion in the early ’90s — Throwing Muses, Belly, bits of the Cranberries — both musically and in Rice’s heartfelt lyrics which, taken out of context, read like poems.
“We don’t play a lot,” bassist Sean Chapman said in a chat, “but we practice every week.”

Subatlantic’s investment of time and practice to perfect their sound has paid off at every level on their full-length debut, Villains — a release that was well worth the wait.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 269.


  • 46
    Shares
Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

The Iowa City Human Rights Commission needs you!

Apply Today

@ICHumanRights »

Advertisement

Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.

Coralville Public Library Online Summer Reading Programs

For ages 0-99+