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Suburban Plaza's 'Have a Good Time' EP is both challenging and catchy pop music


Suburban Plaza started in Rochester as a versatile rock band before moving to Los Angeles and evolving into first-rate hip-hop songwriters, producing pop songs for the likes of Joji and Rich Brian.

Its members never stopped writing for themselves though, as evidenced by the hard-hitting, poignant single “PHILANDO/NAT” and “TULSA” EP, and the new crop of tunes they penned since spreading out across the East Coast during the pandemic.

Their latest EP “Have a Good Time,” released Nov. 5,  finds band members Yone, Jerry Rescue, Wave, and Dave Hamilton continuing to package raw, brutally honest lyrics in glossy pop music loaded with auto-tuned vocals and R&B hooks. The difference here is that the five silken slow jams focus more on modern dating than the social justice thread of their earlier work.

The band rolls out elements of soul, R&B, and rap deliberately, but the execution is so sophisticated and seamless that it sounds as if it’s coming from the musicians’ subconscious.

Suburban Plaza’s nuanced use of autotune dominates “Sweet Escape,” a ’70s-style duet with vocalist SiMaya. Rather than being pervasive in a way that sometimes stunts musical expressivity, the autotune on Yone’s voice paradoxically adds emotion and soulfulness to the melody.

The single “Fool’s Paradise,” first released in September, is a smooth soundtrack to the bitter demise of a relationship. Musically, the R&B melody and hip-hop rhythm make for a seductive combination that suggests romantic bliss. The lyrics tell a different story:

I’ve been meaning to text back/ But my ego said not to/ And my pride said ‘Fuck you’/ In my mind it’s all you.

Similarly, “Boyfriends” is an expletive-filled break-up song about a man who’s lost patience with a cheating partner.

The longest of the five songs on “Have a Good Time” clocks in at a mere three minutes and 25 seconds, but brevity can hook listeners. Personal spoken-word commentary on the pitfalls of romance serves as segues between songs.

The EP closes with “Make Up Sex,” in which a couple isn’t quite ready to end their relationship. “I wanna let this go but we ain’t done yet,” Yone and guest vocalist Saint Bodhi sing.

A fake automated message has the last word, however: “This love has died. Would you like another?”

With “Have a Good Time,” Suburban Plaza succeeds once again at making irresistible pop music with unsettling messages. The beats and melodic hooks may lure the listener in, but the words are intentionally uncomfortable and unabashedly honest. Suburban Plaza is proof that art can be both insightful and catchy as hell.

Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at