Suburban Delinquents - Exiles (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Suburban Delinquents

Exiles (2109)

self released

Suburban Delinquents’ story started out like so many other bands. They were four kids who got together to make some punk noise in the mid ‘90s. They played a bunch of shows, made a couple albums, and developed a pretty good local following. Then they started to grow up and went their separate ways. Years later they all found themselves back in metro Detroit, and started playing again. If that’s where things had ended, it would have already been a pretty good story.

It turns out that was only the beginning. In late 2017/early 2018 they released a six song EP appropriately and ironically titled Dead & Gone. The five new songs and a Jawbreaker cover showed a band that somehow still seemed to be in its prime. Just two years later, the surprisingly prolific Suburban Delinquents are back with 14 more new songs. Exiles is the band’s first full length in two decades, and clearly shows that these guys have grown up. They might still be delinquents, but they’re definitely not juvenile delinquents.

Exiles was released in December of 2019, and deserves better than to be lost in the year end shuffle. Suburban Delinquents’ sound is gritty, raspy and melodic, and wears its broken heart on its sleeve. Think maybe Hot Water Music or Avail. It’s definitely heavily informed by the ‘90s, yet manages to avoid sounding dated. All 14 tracks will have you singing along after a couple listens. Exiles covers all the subjects that you’d expect, but from a much more adult (jaded?) perspective.

The opener (“Day By Day”) is a working class anthem. Of course, there are songs about Motown (“Lost in the City”, “The New Detroit”). They turn their drinking song (“Broken Bottles”) on its head, and it’s about giving up the habit that once defined them. There are songs about breaking up (“Bury Me”), and songs about growing apart (“Take Shelter”). Sub D’s angry political song (“Purge”) is the most intense on the record. A couple of songs (“1998”, “Fade Out”) allow the band to enjoy a bit of nostalgia.

As its title suggests, much of Exiles is about struggling to find one’s place. You get the impression that these guys can’t shake their past, but still don’t feel comfortable where they once called home. Several songs (“No Exit”, “The Next Train”, “Dead End”, closer “Catacombs”) explore some version of this. The slightly mellower “Our Delinquency” comes in the middle of Exiles, and feels like the record’s centerpiece. Beyond being catchy as hell, its themes will be relatable for many who have reached a certain age.

There’s a lot to unpack on Exiles. It has a depth, a sense of both gratitude and loss, that can only be reached through experience. With a 45 minute run time, it’s a bit of a throwback to the CD glory days of the ‘90s. In the end, that just means that there are more well crafted songs to love. It may take a bit longer to fully appreciate, but ultimately Suburban Delinquents make it worth the effort. Definitely recommended.