What makes a summer song or album is debatable, but evoking “a subtle word, a gentle nod, beers that come with sliced limes” over an upbeat groove almost certainly fits the bill. This line, situated in the opening track of Adrian Teacher and the Subs’ latest EP, Anxious Love, forecasts the album’s breezy, charming lyricality, befitting the seasonal spirit of its May release.
Opener, “Hello Everyone” sets the tone with an overall ‘60s British Invasion guitar-pop sound, some disco grooves courtesy of bassist Robbie N and Teacher’s relaxed, harmonic tenor. Lyrically, the song is an address to the audience at a venue past, establishing the convivial self-awareness that characterizes Anxious Love. “Modern Art” takes this lyrical cleverness further, combining percussionist Amanda P’s driving drumline with a quip you might expect from a high school teacher: “And here’s the scary part / Modern art, modern art.” Another standout song, “Pop Medicine,” combines the album’s most power-pop arrangement with lyrics describing a youthful state of perpetual intoxication (“Like a cicada / Buzzing all the time”) giving way to desire for personal growth. The core of self-reproach makes the song a fitting counterpoint to the lackadaisical nostalgia of “Hello, Everyone.”
In terms of influences, Teacher’s pop sensibilities, low-key vocals and lyrical cleverness all speak to the enduring appeal of Ray Davies and Nick Lowe. The album art, a bold pink backdrop with an assortment of detailed sketches in blue (courtesy of comedian and artist Aaron Read), is literally illustrative of the band’s capacity for incisiveness and depth within cheerful pop arrangements. Teacher’s subtle lyrical touches and gentle nods to pop masters make the album a charming listen through and through. So if you see fit to crack the beer and slice the lime, Anxious Love is certainly worth your time.