Look at any band or artist’s ‘golden years’, the ‘creative purple patch’ as us critics like to call it, and you’ll see that they all manage to cram as much greatness as possible into a very small period of time. Whether it was Stevie Wonder’s ‘classic period’ between 1972 and 1976, Oasis’ double-dose of mega-platinum britpop between ’94 and ’95, or pretty much The Beatles’ whole existence in those 8 short years, there’s a case of ‘seizing the moment’ throughout, with not a single laurel being rested on in sight. So as Tribes gear up to release their 2nd album in 18 months, it may seem optimistic to expect some form of truly-inspired greatness here, but based on the debut record, 2012’s ‘Baby‘, the band’s recent live outings, and a stunning one-two of lead singles in the Primal Scream-esque ‘How The Other Half Live‘ and the anthemic ‘Dancehall‘, expectations have a right to be high, and thankfully, they get rewarded.
Recorded in legendary (and rather topical) Sound City studio with Kevin Augunas (The Black Keys, Cold War Kids), the band have seemingly undergone a dramatic transformation in sound in just over a year. Of course, by relocating to LA, the noise is naturally more American sounding, with big, hand-on-heart choruses taking precedence here, as the Tom Petty-ish, bar-room rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Sons & Daughters‘ proclaims itself as probably the catchiest thing on the record, while opener ‘Dancehall”s preach of the already classic “I don’t care for dancing, but thanks for asking” is as undeniable as it is brilliant; VERY.
The likes of ‘Graceland‘ and ‘Get Some Healing‘ aren’t far from the more introverted side of Americana-style writing, with harmonies flowing and acoustic guitars chiming in unison, reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkle, and even touches of Bob Dylan, as Johnny Lloyd’s voice brings its unmistakeable power to proceedings, especially on ‘Looking For Shangri-La‘, quite possibly the most beautiful song in the Tribes canon. Laden with organs, gospel choir, slide guitar, and a healthy dose of unashamed, tear-jerking brilliance, Lloyd asks “In this land of pleasure and sin // of love and suffering // would you sell your soul in return for your redemption?” and it’s clear that this record owes as much to the very basic, human emotions of love, loss, life and death as its predecessor.
‘Wrapped Up In A Carpet‘ is a ’70s folk-rock wig out (complete with horn section, a surprising recurrence throughout the LP), ‘It Never Ends‘ is a blissful, psychedelic lullaby of a tune, whilst ‘Street Dancin’‘ peacefully brings a close to events, combining a sparse, spaced-out kinda vibe with the bittersweet notion that it’s all over now (for the time being, at least). Indeed, if Tribes never even make another album again, or perhaps indulge somewhat and take a downward turn standard-wise, then at least ‘Wish To Scream‘ will stand up alongside ‘Baby‘ as both a great collection of individual songs and a brilliant overall album experience at the same time.