Subscribe – Booksmarks Review

By Elena Maystruk

Since 1999 fans have been signing up to hear Subscribe break open the music scene with a new sound. The band seamlessly incorporates its Hungarian roots and European edge with a variety of musical genres, and their latest album Bookmarks is everything fans love; loud, floor trembling, in charge and infused with sinews of various styles.

For this album, the band has one foot outside the box and the other planted firmly in the familiar ground of their signature sound. It’s a great moment when a band like Subscribe wants to try something different. The building blocks of great music are there, but the album didn't penetrate that final finish line of polished perfection we all expected from such an experienced band.

Subscribe's latest footprints on the music scene are deep and nothing short of attention grabbing, but Bookmarks demonstrates the complexities of mixed-genre music as a difficult art to master. The band tries to include more twists and turns in their music than usual, incorporating jazz, electronic influences and snatches of ballads all in one song. The bane of Bookmarks is the lack of continuity in the attempt to draw various musical styles together in a more obvious way.

With this in mind, pushing the limits of a certain style is never a bad thing and this band is no stranger to striving for original sound, but this time, Subscribe's work lacks unity as a whole, failing to reflect their usual knack for seamlessly weaving together various styles of music.

Subscribe's all or nothing attitude towards their latest work is admirable, its a new year after all and they are one of many patriots of original sound in a sea of over-marketed, over played singles. The album sounds fresh if somewhat unbalanced at times, but I give them full points for having the confidence to be bold and for retaining their skill to move listeners. But in this album, if a song is good; the music powerful, Bálint Csongor and Máté Tilk's mighty vocals going strong, the abrupt changes can really take away from the moment.

Sharp turns in the music are not always uncalled for. Orchitis and Ringside Seat are effortless, the sound like a smooth serpent of many colours coiling it into a spiral of pattern and emotions. If the entire album had the same feel, it would be brilliant.

And speaking of brilliant, perhaps two of the band's best aspects are its energy and its passion for the recognition of the European music scene. True to their sound they include a Hungarian track and infuse their music with sweet splashes of piano music and piercing guitar riffs. Here at least, Subscribe never disappoints.

Taking Europe by storm for many years, Subscribe is known in this part of the world for their bold choices in sound and this album is nothing if not bold despite its more practical shortcomings. All in all, given a choice between a mainstream song and a sincere artistic product like Bookmarks, I would choose the latter every time.