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Tubelord Romance Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

However seriously you choose to take it, this is a brilliant second album.

Mike Haydock 2011

It’s hard to know how to take Tubelord. Their punky, frenetic sound is swamped in glossy pop melodies you can sing in the shower; their lyrics are erudite one minute and nonsensical the next; and they are elusive in interviews, leaving you bemused as to whether they’ve got a serious artistic message, or whether they’re just messing about.

The most immediate song on this second album is My First Castle, and it encapsulates the Tubelord dilemma. A jaunty, twee riff bobs along merrily, making you smile; and Jo Prendergast sings: "Relax, make love in a stream, crawl like an ant, or swing in a tree." But then, in a blink, he turns on his audience, and shouts in italics: "Oh but we must have friends round for dinner dear and read the papers; suddenly I’m old; whatever you touch is already dead, for that I am certain." Elsewhere, there’s a pretty xylophone melody threaded through Never Washboard, but the lyrics are about a child who watches his dad run out on his family, and then fantasises about revenge: "We can pull his insides out, pack him like a turkey, roast him slow."

It is this combination of disposability and depth – both sonically and lyrically – that makes Tubelord such a fascinating listen. They are a combination of flippancy and insight; of jangly pop and full-throttle riffs. It’s reminiscent of Pavement, whilst also referencing the barbed, post-punk shapes of At the Drive-In. It’s the sound of angry men who are too apathetic to get violent and too intelligent to see the point in getting violent, so instead they shape their confusion at the world into twisted lullabies. It’s compelling.

Romance follows on where Tubelord’s debut, Our First American Friends, left off, though this album jumps around less. The changes of pace are more restrained, there are more synths to smooth out the rough edges, and Prendergast regularly reins his vocal in. But the playful charm is still in abundance: they chant on Go Old, they whistle on In Greenland, they cheer on My First Castle. However seriously you choose to take it, this is a brilliant second album.

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