EP Review: Tubelord
Our First American Friends was a wildly popular record among rock critics despite the fact that it was everything you would have thought a self-respecting rock critic would detest: animated, cheerful and coming across like the wet daydreams of a Michael Cera character. But it was undeniably brilliant in its own idiosyncratic manner.
Quite a bit has changed since Tubelord‘s first full-length came out last year. The three-piece recorded on the debut is no more, Sean Bamburger becoming the third full-time bassist the group has had to move on. His departure has been supplanted by Tom Coulson-Smith, who continues in much the same vein as his predecessor. Also joining the fracas, and making a marked difference on Tezcatlipōca for it, is James Elliot Field who brings buoyancy with his synthesizer melodies.
Tezcatlipōca doesn’t stray too far from the upbeat nature of the Our First American Friends, and yet there’s a sense of the band members growing into themselves somewhat. The lyrical themes would make the bearded leviathans of Mastodon proud; allusions to Aztec religion, and its believers understanding of time and space sound confounding, but Joe Prendergast’s voice lends a sense of timid intimacy to the gargantuan themes the words are attempting to decipher.
His effeminate singing voice wraps itself lusciously around the unhurried introduction of ‘Arbour’, an uplifting and stirring opening lullaby. It segues into the heavier syth of ‘Ratchet’, imbibed with a lone trumpet and a thicker texture, all coming together in the final thirty seconds creating an almost perfect pop-rock song. Then ‘Bazel’ speeds things up, low slung and with more a more pronounced rock slant, Prendergast trading blows with his razor-sharp guitar riff. The conclusion is about as musically epic you can get in the space of three minutes – the band chant ominously, a cacophony of riffs build up together, and alone speaks Prendergast’s alien voice.
For such a joyous sounding band, the three tracks on Tubelord’s Tezcatlipōca leaves a depressing final impression. At just under ten minutes, this is a cruelly short demonstration of how the band has expanded its sound and thematic inspirations, alongside showing what we can expect in the future from the band’s change in line-up. Anticipate a lot from 2011’s Over In Brooklyn.
Originally published at The Line of Best Fit.