Tubelord Our First American Friends Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A debut to savour and take to your heart.

Mike Haydock 2009

Post-rock, math-rock… whatever you want to call that smashing up of songs and then stitching the bits back together, Tubelord do it, and they do it very well indeed.

The Kingston trio are a fiercely intelligent bunch, fizzing with musical and lyrical imagination. They’re also blessed – rather than cursed – with zero attention span. The result is a debut album jam-packed with glorious pop choruses and codas, joined up with riffs of all shapes and sizes: spindly, spidery lead guitar licks one minute and crunching distorted power chords the next.

Biffy Clyro comparisons ring true at times, though the majority of Our First American Friends leans closer to contemporaries Tellison and Johnny Foreigner, opting for playful fun rather than angst. And their lyrics bear this out, singer Joseph Prendergast unleashing a tangle of words that vary from the insightful to the impenetrable. “Mavis told the truth, I’m the one for you,” he croons on album highlight Night of the Pencils, without giving us even the most basic hint as to who Mavis is.

What marks them out from their peers, though, is their poise. They blend from loud to soft, from raucous to pretty, with consummate ease, balancing the rough with the smooth to provide a thrilling but enjoyable ride – you know it’s all under control, even if you don’t know where it’s heading. And in the gentle breakdown of He Awoke on a Bench in Abergavenny, and particularly the melancholic chimes of Cows to the East, Cities to the West – a ballad amidst all the summery pop explosions – Tubelord truly surprise with their diversity and mark themselves out as something special.

There is so much going on here that first-time listeners may well get exhausted about halfway through, but after several spins the brilliance of this album hits home – when you suddenly and involuntarily find yourself dancing and singing along. It’s a debut to savour and take to your heart.

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