Tubelord - R O M A N C E

Just plain awesome.

Rating: 8

Tubelord sit slap in the middle of this sort-of unnecessarily complex Venn diagram in which indie, alternative, punk, and their multitudinous sub- and micro-genres all converge. They sit there fairly comfortably; the band’s guitar work and drums can draw comparisons to both eras of Foals, whilst also evoking the signature sound of Tim Kinsella’s many, many acts. Tubelord lie somewhere in the centre of this indie rock spectrum.

Anyway, that’s the imaginary stats and graphs out of the way. ‘Romance’ begins, brilliantly, with ‘Over In Brooklyn’, which quite literally picks up where the final, title track of debut album ‘Our First American Friends’ left off. Like how Casino Royale lead straight into Quantum Of Solace, but not disappointing and a bit crap. No sir, no how.

We’re eased into, if not Tubelord v.2.0, then certainly Tubelord v.1.2. On a purely aesthetic level, a lot has changed: the album artwork is more Rapture-remix-album than the ironic-three-wolf-moon-tee painting of their debut, and the song titles are short and snappy, evocative of the lyrical content - a far cry from the likes of ‘Your Bed Is Kind Of Frightening’ and ‘Somewhere Out There A Dog Is On Fire’ from ‘…American Friends’.

Luckily, audibly, we have that aforementioned storming guitar-based sound we’ve come to know and love of Tubelord, then suddenly… SYNTHS!

Along with the sort of speeding rock music with Joseph Prendergast’s Bart Simpson squeal that we’ve grown used to during the band’s tenure thus far, there are songs that verge into the territory of Johnny Foreigner, with drum machines and Nintendo sound boards being abused in a more focused, less ramshackle way than their mates do it. Even that instrument most simultaneously celebrated and reviled in this ‘scene’, the glockenspiel, gets a look-in for a couple of genuinely lovely slowies.

There are many bands, including many friends of this band, that have put together a similar grab-bag of influences to Tubelord, but each have done so in an intriguingly different way. The USP of Tubelord, along with Pendergat’s unmistakable singing, is that the lyrics exist in the more traditional story-telling form, creating characters and letting stories play out in scenes of magical realism and just plain crushing reality, as opposed to their peers heart-on-sleeve personal outpourings.

And, y’know, they’re just plain awesome.