4 February 2012

Album Review: Tribes - Baby

Baby is an assured first album from Camden four-piece Tribes, who wear their influences on their sleeves but come up with an exhilarating record revealing an unexpected maturity. Formed in 2010, Tribes have opened for the Pixies and steadily gained attention on the summer festival circuit last year.

Much of the album is a lively mixture of walls of grunge guitar, Britpop-style singalong choruses, distortion, and splashes of bluesy Americana. Halfway Home and Nightdriving are cool counterpoints in a more introspective style, underpinned with just enough of Miguel Demelo’s drumming.

Single Sappho, with a nod to Queen, showcases the lyrical depth found throughout the album, with intimate whispering vocals which smoulder and build to a classic rock’n’roll chorus. However the standout track is Nightdriving, in which a hypnotic guitar rhythm and talk radio samples, and lead singer Johnny Lloyd’s plaintive chant “What use is God if you can’t see him/What use are friends if they don’t want in?” create an ominous mood of self-doubt. Alone Or With Friends starts in a shoegazer style before bringing in gorgeous vocal harmonies, crashing drums borrowed from Oasis, and sun-drenched drones.

We’ve been here before with the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, and the Vaccines only a couple of years ago - with dance and R&B acts dominating the charts, Tribes have been declared the saviours of guitar music by NME. On We Were Children, they sing “we were children in the mid-Nineties”; while it’s clear what they listened to at the time, this debut, although heavy on the anthemic choruses and grunge revival, could just inspire a generation bored of Adele and Ed Sheeran to pick up a guitar.

Originally published at Dale & Co.

1 February 2012