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Album Review: Tribes – Baby

While a new year brings a flock of debut albums from bands all hoping to make it ‘their year’, Camden four-piece Tribes might just achieve that with their long-awaited LP, Baby. The second half of 2011 saw the band take their guitar-heavy pop around the world with festivals and constant touring but 2012 will see the band up their game.

They might have already cracked Japan and left some dents in Europe but the potential of Baby is huge, and early comparisons of a new take on ‘grunge’ get laughed off straight away. Tribes will be making the big stages their homes as their sing-a-long chorus’ could not be more fitting in a climate where guitar bands have been struggling to make an impression on the mainstream. Baby goes down two routes, the big pop rock anthem and then the stripped-back, campfire soundtrack; together they highlight influences from various sources keeping the album exciting and diverse, the prolific start to the album does lose its franticness towards its ending, but that is of course intentional.

The three already released singles (We Were Children, Sappho and When My Day Comes) might be hook heavy but Baby offers plenty of instant classics as well as the much needed growers the extend its longevity. Once Whenever, the opener gets going the catchy unmistakable Tribes sound kicks in with a shouty chorus created to be yelled back but this isn’t just any-old ‘pop rock’ song, the structure is interesting, the texture diverse. The record continues to flow in a frantic manner with the song for a generation of twenty-somethings, We Were Children and the intense and passionate Corner Of An English Field. The four-piece focus heavily on childhood, where growing pains mix with rose-tinted glasses well, where love and lust merge into one as lyrics talk of religion and beliefs with emotion and heart. There is nothing throw-away on this debut.

By the time you reach Nightdriving, the album’s highlight you have already heard the catchiness of Sappho, the charming Halfway Home and the stadium filling Himalaya. What sets Tribes away from other guitar bands who failed to connect with the masses is their honesty and lack of pretentiousness whilst questioning serious subjects – it’s not just drink, drugs and sex. Lloyd reflects in Nightdriving ‘What use is God if you can’t see him, what use are friends if they don’t want in’ bravely as he battles and teases with confusion, making the lyrics more than just words.

When My Day Comes is the final burst of energy for the album where it is effortlessly brilliant, full of enthusiasm, youth and innocence, there are no tedious cliches, it is exactly what you want from a band ready to take on the charts. As the album comes to its climax you are reintroduced to their gentle-side as the slow drum-beat of Alone Or With Friends dictates the pace like a funeral march for the Seattle grunge scene that the distorted vocals on this track are one of few moments on the record that take influences. And, that other moment is in the Pixies sounding closer, Bad Apple where whiney guitars partner heartfelt lyrics.

Tribes have had an exciting 2011, the buzz at times might have over-powered them but the eleven tracks on this fine debut highlight their worthiness.

Baby is released on January 16th through Island Records. Catch the band on the NME Tour in the new year.

- Matty Pinder



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