Subway Rat – ‘Stand Clear of the Closing Doors’

One of two stellar albums released from the project in 2023, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the infectious rock debut from Subway Rat. The Brooklyn-based project of David Polanco dropped the full-length Captain of the Football Team on the last day of 2023. Prior to that, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors released in August, introducing listeners to the sounds of Subway Rat. Both releases showcase a charismatic rock sound, with this debut album taking cues from early ’00s NYC indie staples like The Stokes and LCD Soundsystem.

A compelling lyrical narrative persists amidst the punchy production, detailing “a young man in the big city,” experiencing heartbreak and unrequited love. The album’s first single, “Rendezvous,” was written by Polanco following a break-up with his college sweetheart, so the thematic hold derives from notable personal inspiration. “Rendezvous” is a stellar representation of the project’s sound, weaving Strokes-esque guitars amidst vocal admittances that “I live a half-baked life, nothing is going right.” The pleading for “love tonight,” resonates amidst a thumping bass enamoring and concise, hooky guitar lines. Satiating, culminating hooks are abundant throughout the album, and especially here; the “I want ya,” pleading is thoroughly replay-inducing.

“Tell Me What To Do” commences the album with an unrequited yearning. “Tell me what to do to make you fall in love with me,” they plead, escalating in tone and urgency at mid-point alongside added guitar lines. “Schoolyard Crush” furthers that sense of pining, weaving in a funky rhythmic appeal alongside debonair guitar lines. “I don’t think you know how much I love you,” the vocals further admit on “Tomorrow,” where starry-eyed synths and quick-swiping guitars complement the adoring lyrical disposition. The first half of Stand Clear of the Closing Doors fully showcases themes of heartbreak and unrequited yearning, spanning tonally from the punchy opener to the contemplative synth-infused “Tomorrow.”

The title-touting refrain on “How Much Was My Fault?” achieves a state of introspection, coming to grips with a breakup though also questioning one’s role in the dissolution. “Espresso Martini” follows by asking “will you show up?” and “do you think of me in your head?” — continuing the state of coping. The utterly infectious “I Guess I’m Wrong” escalates feverishly, while “V Day” brings back that early ’00s NYC indie-rock feeling in its submerged vocal effect and frolicking guitar work. “LMK” concludes the album in stellar form, kicking off with tender guitar tones and hypnotic vocal lushness — as piano flourishes incorporate seamlessly into a driving bass line; it serves as yet another success on an album full of contagious rock successes.

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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