Island Records has a long history of releasing brilliant, game changing, epoch defining albums. Works by – off the top of my head – Tom Waits, Bob Marley, Nick Drake, King Crimson, Pulp, PJ Harvey, Jimmy Cliff, Grace Jones, U2 and so on and on, are amongst the greatest works of art ever created. And so, with that backdrop of magnificent human achievement, we come sheepishly to Tribes’ second effort. To be fair, Wish To Scream isn’t the worst album I’ve ever heard – while Hadoken keep releasing records that title’s gonna be hard to snatch. It is however very boring, very predictable, and very, very likely to signal the band’s first steps on the weary road back to the Job Centre. I feel a bit wrong footed by all this because the lead single – How the Other Half Live was a great moment – a searing reimagining of huge, anthemic 80s indie, cribbing the best bits from Julian Cope and Primal Scream. Unfortunately, in the context of the rest of the albums tedious soft rock, the single falls apart, and sounds increasingly like a dodgy Sympathy for the Devil knock off by a Camden pub band who are long on luck but pretty fucking short on original ideas.
Generously, the PR bumf that came with the album tipped me the wink it was going to be rubbish, by talking about how the band had fallen in love with the ‘wide screen American landscape’ and wanted to make a ‘classic rock opus’ etc, etc all of which (I suspect) is meant to read: ‘went to the States. Blew advance on cocaine enemas. Ran out of ideas two songs in. Defaulted to copying whatever the radio played and ended up with a shitcake made from grimmest parts of Reo Speedwagon and Journey. Turns out; not actually Jagger and Richards. Shame.’
I could go through each song listing why it was boring, but that in itself makes me feel terrible. There’s really little pleasure to be had slagging off someone else’s work, but I’ve listened to the album all the way through 3 times now and I can’t pick out anything – anything – that hasn’t been done before and better.You can disagree with this review all you like, but you’re going to have to show me a song on here that isn’t a dull retread, and you know what? You can’t. Look, just say you left a biscuit on the floor of the Astoria for 5 months. Just because it had heard rock n roll for the time you left it, would it be able to make a great album? No, it’d still be a bloody biscuit, except by now it would have gone stale. This album is the stale biscuit scraped from the beer sodden floor of rock. They can instagram up the videos and give the album cover a nice, ‘edgy’ psychedelic pantone wash all they like, the music is as conservative as garden gnomes in Surrey and Jeremy Clarkson’s jeans. It doesn’t sound young, or fresh, or exciting, or even classic and cinematic, it sounds like a waste of time and money, and I think they need to stop. 3/10