Tubelord - Our American Friends (Hassle Records 2009)
WERE BIGGER THAN MEMPHIS
Everyone's favourite Kingston trio release their debut album this week on Hassle Records, everyone who has had the pleasure to witness these guys live will agree that they are one of the most exciting British bands around today. With a string of singles released in the last couple of years (I Am Azerrad and Feed Me A Box Of Worms, both on Big Scary Monsters). The blood thirsty youth have been shouting from the rooftops for an album to call their own, a collection as jangly and vibrant as their live act. Well the people got their wish this week.
On first look of the tracklisting it's easy to notice that there are a few tracks which have been released, in one shape or another, in one way or another almost like it's shaping the past of the band...you're on the Tubelord journey and it really shows how the band has progressed and grown up...without forgetting what it is to be young. To the seasoned Tubelord fan though, this could become a distraction, those songs would stick in your mind so much that unless the new material blows your mind, it will be easy to forget about them. I for one, don't want that to happen, not when it comes to Tubelord.
To the new fan though, this is genius, you'll get the record on your best friend's recommendation (who's caught Tubelord live about twenty times by now) and they will point out which songs they love, sound better live or just better than The Beatles. You'll listen to Tubelord for the first time, everything will sound fresh, you won't just focus the previously released material, your foot will tapping the whole way through, you'll want to go and see them live, it's like your mind is being blown for the first time. This is how we all want to feel when we listen to this album, right?
If you haven't already got a beaming smile on your face from the first two tracks, Night Of The Pencils will definitely change that. It showcases that Tubelord are not just a one dimensional band (honestly I think a kid with ADHD writes the bands songs sometimes) changing direction faster than a shark, just as you think you've got Tubelord all summed up, something else hits you smack in the face. Every time I hear the beginning of this song live I knew everyone's in for a treat, it has everything you want from the band, jangly guitars, the little 'spazz out' and then finishing with an epic sing along of "We're bigger than Memphis" that everyone can get involved in.
Propeller is possibly my favourite Tubelord song, it's the first one I heard on the bands myspace a few years ago, I think we all knew that the band were offering something just a little different, special. I'm really glad this song found it's way onto the album as it sums up the band for me. Synthesize is one of those songs that's new but also one that the band have been playing live for a while now, it's much in the vein of what the Tubelord ethos is all about "Playing pop music to indie kids" and that's exactly what it is...I think.
The last song on the record and also the titled of the album, Our American Friends, is more about showing off that Tubelord have the more secure sound that could fill a room, not just your head. Giving us that side of Tubelord that we've never really seen much of before, there's a strings section, a soaring chorus, almost like how Biffy Clyro have found that chart topping anthem sound they've been carrying around with them for some time now. It's actually a great album finisher, it gives you time to get your breathe back and relax...giving you just about enough to time to get over what you've heard and to press that play button for another round.
I once had to describe what Tubelord sounded like to a friend (as his band were due to support Tubelord) I found it hard without just using the word "Amazing". To be honest to this day I still do, I think I said something like "Oh it's like indie music, jangly, but it's like having three songs in one, it's just crazy" without trying to sound like an idiot. After listening to this record a few times and really trying not to overthink it, I think the best way to describe Tubelord is; Pandora's Box, once opened you're never too sure what's going to come out...but it's going to be one hell of a ride.
If Gandhi himself were sitting next to me right, he would be doing so with a grinning smile on his face and sticking two thumbs up. This album has everything you wanted to hear, the ups, the downs, the party flavour, it just sounds like three friends doing what they do best, having too much fun...and every listener can join in. If find an album this year that is more fun to listen to, you have my permission to feed me a box of worms.
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