BY MARK JENKINS
It’s still against the rules for punk-era bands to reunite, but plenty of them have done so without embarrassing themselves. To a list that includes Wire, Mission of Burma and Pere Ubu, you can add Minneapolis’ the Suburbs. The quintet’s original run was from 1977 to 1987, during which it produced such near-hits as “Waiting” and “Love is the Law.” Three members of the original lineup have regrouped for shows periodically since 1994, but Si Sauvage is the band’s first album of new material since Reagan was selling missiles to Iran.
The Suburbs were never primitives or minimalists. They distinguished themselves with oddball humor and an eclectic style, as well as useful ties to their hometown’s funkier inhabitants. Si Sauvage has its Prince-ly accents, but its jumbo-sized choruses and classic-rock touches (including a horn section and female backing vocals) are closer to the Boss. Plus, singer-guitarist Beej Chaney’s suave baritone still recalls Bryan Ferry.
Chaney and singer-keyboardist Chan Poling wrote these 10 songs, which range from the exuberant “Born Under a Good Sign” to the grandly brooding “This Monkey.” Such tunes as “Turn the Radio On” are as traditional as their titles, with lyrics that sometimes rely on clichés. But if the album is more notable for expertise than innovation, not one track is a clunker. Best of all is “Reset the Party,” a comeback anthem with mainstream appeal but enough nutty sonic touches to prove that the Suburbs can still be sauvage when they wanna.
DOWNLOAD: “Reset the Party,” “Born Under a Good Sign”