Let me be clear from the start; when I first listened to Tribes I thought I was having an epiphany. I genuinely believed they were going to be the band to support the future of guitar music in 2012, what with being tipped by the Mystery Jets and all that. And they started off well. The first single ‘We Were Children’ was a raucous romp that seemed to justify the hype the band were stirring up. So it’s fair to say that I was quite excited to listen to this album.
To put it bluntly it was a hell of a disappointment. ‘Baby’ is 40 minutes of what is basically the same song repeated again and again with different lyrics. What was a half decent idea becomes god-awful about 4 songs in, let alone by the end of the album, each song full of obvious hooks and laddish choruses all swathed in just the right amount of feedback. The subtle nationalism of ‘Corner of an English Field’ features possibly the best rhyming triplet of the whole musical year with the day you dyed your hair/we watched the people stare/you said you didn’t care. Wow, you can tell what a corker this album is! From here on in, it’s safe to say that it is almost impossible to take the album seriously. Ooh look a reference to the ancient Greek poet from Lesbos, how intellectual. A slow song to mix things up, goodness this band are pioneers. ‘We Were Children’ firmly rubs in what the band could have been, as does an appearance of ‘Nightdriving’, originally a free demo but now over produced and its low key charm lost. You can’t help but feel that if Tribes hadn’t been noticed, they would have written a rougher but better album.
It’s a trick bands like Coldplay among others have tried (and succeeded in), of writing the same song and hoping that the masses will follow. And I wish all the luck to Tribes, I’m sure they will pick up a pretty decent following of teenage girls due to extensive radio play and the attraction of four scruffy boys from Camden. But if you want to listen to a decent, clever guitar band this year, at least go and check out Howler before this lot.
By Jessy Parker