Alongside the likes of Spector, Bos Angeles, and Zulu Winter, Camden four-piece Tribes have been hailed by the music press as one of the guitar bands capable of reviving the struggling indie scene, a rather optimistic hope considering their fuzz-soaked debut, Baby, feels more like a leftover relic from the '90s than the game-changer the genre needs. Indeed, frontman Johnny Lloyd, part-Johnny Borrell/part-Marc Bolan, and company may have been labeled grunge revivalists, but apart from the Nevermind-esque bassline that opens the swaggering noise rock of opener "Whenever" and the stodgy, glam-tinged "We Were Children," which borrows the guitar hook from the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind," it's the era of Cool Britannia that appears to have provided the blueprint for Baby's 11 tracks. At times, it threatens to reach the heights of the Brit-pop greats, such as the ghostly swamp rock of "Alone or with Friends," which sounds like a cross between Blur's lo-fi offerings and Oasis' Noel-fronted epics, and the Suede-ish melancholy of "Corner of an English Field," one of several songs that refer to the recent death of Lloyd's childhood friend, Ou Est le Swimming Pool's Charles Haddon. But at others, it drifts into indie landfill territory, particularly on "Sappho," a tale of sexual confusion which could have been lifted from Viva Brother's terrible similar pastiche debut, and the bratty pop-punk of "When My Day Comes." The reverb-drenched shoegaze of heartbreak anthem "Himalaya," and the spacy acoustic folk of "Halfway Home" prove the band's influences extend beyond the cover stars of the now defunct Select magazine, but they're the only real moments of inspiration on a record that works well enough as a slice of nostalgia, but isn't going to change British guitar music's dire state of affairs.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien