Life Parade’s Suburban Life introduces itself with a misdirection; the opening track “Sine” sounds more like a prologue than a first song. Between the distorted voice over murmuring “I know you’re anxious…” and buzzing electronica, the first impression is of a personal space epic.
Then the title track kicks in, and the listener is treated to an LP of creative, intelligent pop-rock. Each song is textured and layered with care and precision, so although at first listen it comes off as a genre-adherent power pop album, Suburban Life is peppered with surprises.
The title track “Suburban Life” includes both stuttering and smooth horns that give the already lively track additional bursts of color. It pairs with jaunty lyrics about the day-in, day-out rhythm of suburban living that outline the absurdity of it: “Washing the car/when the house is clean.” “Night/day/more bills to pay.” It explores the humdrum trap that living in suburbia poses without making it sound like a death trap, with lyrics that are fun and often funny.
Cameron Mathews wrote, produced, and played every song on Suburban Life and proves himself repeatedly to be an adept lyricist and musician. There are unique sounds and guitar tones on every song. He’s a talented vocalist, too; his voice is akin to other singers in the genre, like Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant or Beck, but still unique to himself, and he sports quite the range. Mathew’s voice shifts from a pleasant, melodic nasal on the album’s more pop-influenced hooks to a sweet sigh on softer tracks, like “Marie” and “January.”
Suburban Life includes grimy synth riffs, the starting tone of a racing arcade game, warbling keyboards, subdued piano, and various moments tailored for each song. “Little Orange Pills” is an absurdly catchy jam on communication or lack thereof, sound like a mid-2000s indie bop without feeling dated. “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothes” builds like a suspense novel, a crooning melody working its way into a buzzing, satisfying guitar line. “Millennial Song” is a sunny song about desperation in the working world, punctuated with tight backing vocals and harmonies.
Sometimes the lyrics get a little lost in the mix, and not all the songs benefit from another repeated refrain, but the songs themselves are so good that it’s not a fault so much as a feature. Suburban Life is a fun, exciting debut album from a promising Duluth talent. Dancing to songs about the mundane or frustrating has rarely been this easy.
Mathews has assembled a band to perform these songs live. To find out more about the album and hear some songs performed live, we’ll have them in Live from Studio A at noon on Septemember 25. Tune in at 103.3fm or online at kumd.org.