Unbridled, youthful, yearning. A triple manifesto of a modern, Western adolescence. That tribe we call teenagers have long expressed themselves via exuberant artistic gestures and recent musical output has seen a poised return to the 90s ethos of teenage tumult, whined out in the wails and howls of Weezer, Blink, Nirvana, Greenday and Feeder. Though sonically separate, that same strain of misunderstanding pubescence forces its way through the cracks, shrieking on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and sullenly slurring throughout ‘Longview’. Recently, the likes of Mazes & PS I Love You have returned to this murky teen tornado of self-consciousness, slothfulness and naïve overwrought emotional states. Philosophers and anthropologists far more intelligent than me will be able to disassemble the machinations that led us back to this position, through the realms of mopey indie kids, glowing nu-ravers and sullen emo tykes.

Whatever the cause, Tribes are another group intent on expressing their youthful zest for life (and complaining about said life), whilst pushing it all in our (my) old faces. The title of the EP, We Were Children, indicates an adolescent period, as the boys of the band begin that ascent into responsible young men (stopping off on the way to whine, smoke, drink and pine). Even the term Tribes is an evocative designation, deftly connected to those group bonds formed as we pass through those formative years, becoming jocks and brains and punks and princesses (hey, The Breakfast Club was a great movie, damnit!).

Opening track ‘We Were Children’ weaves its way to an initial drop that cascades into automatic wailing, a heated sort of distraught that bubbles up in those young relationships that foster as libidos, brains and hearts begin their slow maturation process. An anguished vocal effect seems to come easily to lead singer Johnny Lloyd, recalling long lost sentiment in a disaffected manner. ‘Girlfriend’ churns through a series of riffs that border on garage rock though these same vocals strain out ‘My girlfriend doesn’t love me, my haircut doesn’t suit me’. Any veteran would tell these whippersnappers to shut up and shape up but these tales of juvenile philosophy will reverberate within any of us that grew up in the last few decades, that had the chance to become fully fledged ‘it’s not fair’ teenagers, full of swagger and entitlement whilst simultaneously feeling completely alone, disregarded and unique in this crazy, mixed up world. Sure, we all grow up and (for the most part) move on to responsible adulthood with some sort of a stumble, but it’s bloody heartening to look back once in a while, and even more heartening to see you were never alone. Closer (bar an acoustic version of the title track) ‘Coming of Age’ is the gentle conclusion, murmuring and mumbling this time, setting out the rules of engagement when it comes to this fragile passage in one’s life, wanting this and wanting that with an innocence that, whilst not quite understanding, retains an element of pure honesty and heart. Tribes cut a hole in that 90s retro scene and clamber inside, defiantly slamming and sneaking the door shut behind them, trapped between those polar worlds of responsibility and rock and roll that our teenage selves aspired to. ‘We Were Children’ is a much needed jaunt in 2011 and will, hopefully, provide a comforting ear to those on their own personal journey out of their teens and into their twenties.

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