Sunday, 29 January 2012

Tribes - Baby: one of the best debut albums this year

If you've ever tuned in to Radio 1 after 7pm the odds are you will have heard the heart-melting We Were Children or Sappho by new Camden band Tribes. And if you listened to either of those songs the odds are the lovely Johnny Lloyd's quavering vocals made you fall head over heels for the band immediately. In fact I'd put money on the odds that you'll be over the moon to hear that Tribes' debut album Baby is out now they're that high. But if you have had any reservations about going out and buying this record then let me reassure you: it doesn't disappoint.

No, saying it doesn't disappoint is nowhere near a good enough description of the massive hit Baby. It would even be an understatement to say it more than lives up to its hype; if The Maccabees set the bar for 2012 this indie guitar band have just smashed right through it to an exciting new position several metres higher than it was before.

With their beautiful acoustic guitars and soulful voices Tribes have created an album full of tenderness, wonder and climatic choruses. Seriously, if Biggest Chorus Production was an Olympic sport Tribes would get the gold medal.

But despite being an album from a relatively new band, Baby contains so many older influences. There's a splash of everything, from lovely shine of Primal Scream to Pixies grunge, with Bob Dylan-style questioning lyrics like "What use is a God if you can't see him" and "How d'ya tell a son that his daddy left his mum when she fell in love with a girl like Sappho [a lesbian Ancient Greek poet]" as well as tracks like We Were Children and Alone or With Friends reminiscent of Oasis' messages on just being a kid and having fun (notice how I've got bored of just comparing every guitar band to the Beatles). Tribes appear to have bought the set of greatest all time indie rockers jars, diluted them ever so slightly and then stuck their fingers in all of them.

I don't really do favourite songs from albums. I won't compile any sort of chart unless I absolutely have to. However the three stand out songs to me are Halfway Home, Nightdriving and Alone or With Friends. Sounding like the kind of awesome thing Eminem would sample (although, looking at the "What use is God?" lyrics, maybe only the instrumental) Nightdriving is a sombre, guitar heavy reflection on some of life's rough patches with true emotion seeping from every band member. Halfway Home starts off ever so beautifully Fleet Foxes folk-ish that it melted nearly every internal organ in my body but takes a turn halfway through to become stronger and rockier yet still maintain that relaxed atmosphere. But it's either When My Day Comes or Walking In The Street that'll be the next single in my opinion.

If you give no gibes to the scribes of the vibes of Tribes then I'm guessing you'll be wanting to know a wee bit about upcoming gigs. In the UK alone there are dates planned for Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Norwich, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Bournemouth, Brighton, Portsmouth and their home city of London. And that's only going up to April! So to buy tickets, find out more and discover yet to be announced performances then go directly to the band's website because I've heard Tribes completely smash each and every show they do.

At the moment, wherever I look the music world seems to be littered with record label owners saying that signing guitar bands is too much of a risk in this current electro-dominated climate. What?! Over the whole of this month we've had musicians releasing world class albums from somewhere on that genre's spectrum on a weekly basis (e.g. The Maccabees, Tribes, Lana Del Rey) that raise the bar set from the last one even higher. And as for the lesser known acts, well, in this world of open mics, BBC Introducing and that incredible thing called the internet, my counterarguement is - do you really need one?

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