Subway Rat – ‘Captain of the Football Team’

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An eclectic success, Captain of the Football Team represents the sophomore album from Brooklyn-based artist Subway Rat, the project of David Polanco. An invigorating, hooky assortment of power-pop, rock, pop, and hip-hop compels throughout ten tracks, ranging from the raucous rock energy of opener “Outta Town” to the synth-pop movements within “Nostalgia” and the hip-hop rhythmic engrossment of “Queens Kids.”

“Outta Town” provides a burst of rock energy to kick the album off, echoing an early ’00s indie-rock nostalgia in the guitar tones, also evident on “Lost Without U” and “Summertime.” “Give me a chance, I want to mend it,” the vocals plead on “Outta Town,” acknowledging a role in heartbreak. “I ran you outta town,” the chorus exudes, enamoring with a snappy guitar-fronted energy and reflective bass-y suaveness. An approachable rock success depicting relatable impacts of relationship misunderstandings, “Outta Town” gets Captain of the Football Team into enjoyable motion, while the ensuing “Hope!” continues the thematic grip in strong fashion; the vocals repeat “I hope you don’t forget me,” alongside a similarly rock-forward aesthetic for a replay-inducing impact.

“Crazy” launches a stream of differing aesthetical pursuits. The production here drives on a jumpy, throbbing bass line alongside string-laden elegance. “I don’t need a girl who knows how to pose for a picture,” they sing alongside captivating momentum, traversing into the catching “I’m still crazy for you,” hook. The production reminds fondly of Future Islands’ inventive rock/pop balancing act. “Queens Kids” furthers the stylistic mish-mashing, weaving hip-hop rhythmic influence alongside a lush acoustical gliding and lyrical reflections on what-could-have-been (“they could have had blonde hair like their mama.”) Reminiscing on childhood experiences further the heartfelt imagery and emphasis on connection and friendship/family.

“Moon” and “Corner Café” follow with an alt-rock and power-pop accessibility, with the latter letting out “those were the good old days,” in continuing the preceding themes of reminiscing and pining for things left behind. Thereafter, “Nostalgia” is among the album’s melodic standouts, again reminding of Future Islands in the multi-layered enthusiasm apparent in the vocal hook, amidst heavy bass pulses and glimmering synth injections. “Modern Lovers” closes the album while musing on “the fate of modern lovers,” continuously running from each other and “not even sleeping in the same room.” The infectious rock arsenal and lyrical wit continues here; there isn’t a weak moment on Captain of the Football Team, a definitive success from Subway Rat.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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