Review Summary: F**k the 80’s – this is the 90s revival!
On the chorus of the splendid glam-grunge of ‘We Were Children’, Johnny Lloyd bawls “We were children in the mid-nineties”. Inconsequential is not the right word, as his call back to ’94, Britpop glory, laddish culture and the slew of young British bands making guitar rock popular again at the time is echoed throughout the Camden gang’s 2012 debut, Baby
Tribes’ influence traces back further than when they were just in nappies; as the earlier grunge explosion and one of the genres forerunners, Pixies, spring to mind especially. For some, this influence, worn as nakedly on Tribes’ collective sleeve as it is, will surely put-off desire to listen. In some ways, it’s fair to argue that Tribes aren’t doing anything new – that they have pilfered their ideas and styles off generations of rock n rollers and don’t deserve praise.
But, what’s the point in crying if the milk hasn’t even been spilt. Sure, the percolating drone-guitars of snappy opener, ‘Whenever’ call to mind the Pixies; the anthemic ‘We Were Children’ the trashy-glam of early Suede – but, regardless of their purloined tones, they remain brash, gleaming editions of guitar rock – a genre many in the indie community are calling for the return of, after the previous couple of years’ seeming obsession with incorporating warbling 80s synths into their rock repertoire.
That’s when Baby
begins to make sense – it’s not original or unique but that’s why it works. It picks up where Britpop’s prime left off, with a youthful, guitar based exuberance and nary a filler track present. It doesn’t require time to work out, just an understanding of British rock history or possibly just some level retrospective lust for bands like Pulp at their prime. It’s an instantaneous hit of brightly-lit rock glory and shines through its antecedent issues as such.
As soon as the infectiously gnarled, grunge-lite riffery of ‘Sappho’ ring out, originality’s superiority seems to shatter and clarity arrives as its replacement – this isn’t original or new because it doesn’t need to be – its chords and stadium-sized vocals seem to say f**k the 80’s revival; this is the 90’s revival! What’s more, Baby
is consistent enough to stand proud in this supposed wave, and even though Tribes’ ambition seems somewhat too broad and overshot at times - tackling God, youth, and ancient Greek lesbians all on one record – the anthems shine through after a few spins and one thing is made clear: Yeah, it’s been done before but why should that mean that it can’t be done again?