It’s been suggested in many quarters over the last few months that British indie guitar music is dead. Now they may have a point. It does seem that 2011, which gave us the boring parodies of Viva Brother and The Vaccines, alongside the drab solo offerings of indie stalwarts Liam and Noel Gallagher, only reinforced the stereotype of ‘landfill indie’ and left the genre in a state of flux.
So in that age old rock tradition, a new year brings us 2012’s great hope and saviour, Tribes. Hailing from the mecca of all things bright and shiny in British indie, Camden Town, this unsavoury looking four piece are attempting to reinvent an already weary genre. It must be said that despite the expectation and enervation, this album isn’t half bad. Combining an unlikely mixture of alternative rock acts such as Pixies and Dinosaur Jr with glam bands T Rex and Mott the Hopple, Tribes have hit upon a niche that to most would have seemed unlikely.
Early singles ‘We Were Children’ and the cleverly titled ‘Sappho’ are the cornerstones of the album packing a veritable punch. ‘Whatever’ and ‘Himalaya’ use the classic grunge technique of ‘quiet-loud’ to great effect, whilst ‘Nightdriving’ conveys Johnny Lloyd’s sharp lyricism that underpins Tribes’ sound. Baby’s an album steeped in memory as the tracks go from lost love to childhood reminisce.
Sadly the album does veer off towards the end with ‘Walking In The Street’, ‘Alone Or With Friends’ and ‘Bad Apple’ seeming to mould into one long song as they plod along with little variation.
Ultimately, I don’t think Baby is the album to bring guitar music back to public conscience. Although many of its songs are well written, they still sound like a pale derivative and borrow too heavy from the rich tapestry of indie rock that has gone before them.
Words by Josh Gorman
Baby is out now on Island Records.