London’s big shiny hope for 2012, Tribes face much pressure to deliver on debut album Baby. They’ve had a golden year in the lead-up, with XFM, BBC6 and Island Records ensuring that single ‘We Were Children’ was firmly on loop across UK airwaves. And despite our music press’s habit of proclaiming every new British guitar band as the saviours of rock and roll, Tribes debut single was actually catchy as hell, a devilish blend of anthemic vocals and grunge revivalism that sounded new and nostalgic in equal measure.

 

It’s a shame then that Baby falls short of expectation, offering eleven okay pop songs that are big on production and low on impact. Frontman Johnny Lloyd is more of a singer/songwriter than he wants to let on, which perhaps explains why Baby is so damn ballad heavy. There’s a heavy-handed preoccupation with soaring vocals and storytelling, a glam-rock aesthetic that uncomfortably straddles Tribes' indie sensibilities. Tracks ‘Halfway Home’ and ‘Walking In The Street’ are commercial pop weepies dressed in grunge costumes, while second single ‘Sappho’ features a Pulp-styled reference to fractured sexualities, but ends up being drowned out by its own sonic absurdity.

 

If only they knew what they wanted to be. Opener ‘Whatever’ and ‘We Were Children’ are big tunes that manage to stay grounded, but by the time we get to ‘Nightdriving’ and its massively plodding existential chorus – "what use is God if you never win" – Tribes have well and truly taken to the skies. The only problem is they’ve left us all behind.