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Album Review: Study – Test Subjects

by Charles Lull, Albright College

May 13, 2022

The debut album of the New York duo shows a lot of promise but a slight misstep in execution.

This album from Test Subjects is what I like to call “The Debut Issue.” When a band is working on their first album and is unsure of their sound or what they are going for yet, they throw everything at the wall to see what works. The concept is a young man is being tested on by a secret government agency and working his way through his emotions through the songs. That’s a fascinating idea, but unfortunately, the execution seems to fall short of being excellent.

Study starts very interesting with its intro track and the follow-up song Boy Next Door, where there are seemingly random sound effects that tell an exciting story. With cricket chirps, bottle sounds, and a harpsichord being played over a straightforward piano melody, the song is about young love and what it’s like to be going through those feelings. While these effects are a big reason why this album sounds like nothing else, it’s because, after a while, the effects start to feel more like a gimmick than an exciting part of the band.

Boy Next Door has these charming effects that add to the exciting story, whereas on a song like Tumbleweed, the whole song is just a western-sounding guitar and vulture screeches. I’m baffled by this song being next to the two more “normal” entries on this album. Speaking of those two songs, they have none of the same charm as the opening track. While they’re not bad, I’m never going to say to myself, “Man, I want to listen to Television.” There’s just nothing of the song that pulls me in, and it’s disappointing because the concept behind this record could have made these songs stand out more.

I can see another album from this group, but more refined and less in the way of making the same mistakes as they did on this debut.

Rating: 5/10

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