Tribes of the City’s recently released new album, For the Sleepy People, is actually the band’s second album. The first album, Running to the Sun, was released in 2004 under the former band name, The Movies.
This new album isn’t just a collection of humming-along songs. It actually takes a few times of concentrated listening to get into it. The liner notes say: “Recommendations for better listening: finish all your important business first, make yourself a cup of something nice and warm, put your body in the most comfortable postion, relax and push the PLAY button.”
The album kicks off with a real in-your-face song called “Road,” a rather lengthy track at 7.5 minutes, but this ain’t no Top 30 song. The drums pound away, alongside dazzling guitars and the mesmerizing vocals of 20-year-old Ksenija Sundejeva. A wall of sound is offset by a light middle bridge section, before a return to a barrage of guitars and drums to finish off the song.
“A Day in the City” is the name of the first single from the album. It is a happy-sounding song that has a great video featuring Sundejeva, who traps a group of girl guides, a hunter, a couple of mushroom pickers and an orienteer as reluctant dinner guests in the middle of the forest. To their surprise, she serves up the rest of the band members—live in miniature—on a silver platter.
However, The Tribes lose me on the next song, “Love Forever,” a raunchy and heavy mess of sound, which actually has some Black Sabbath-sounding guitar riffs. The lyrcs are kind of negative, but I suppose they complement the music.
“You’ll Never Come” is a slow, enchanting and mistifying song that really showcases Sundejeva’s singing abilities.
“A Dream,” the fifth song on the album, is a nice steady-tempo song, with tight drums by Ints Barkāns and bass by Juris Justs working well together.
“A House Where We Live,” an acoustic track with a hints of Heart’s “Mistral Wind.” I wonder if Tribes of the City has listened to Heart? “Chaos” is next and you can really hear the Cocteau Twins influences on this song. It’s a really sleepy, free-flowing tune with lots of sound effects. It slowly picks up in a 6/8 tempo. The song is not so chaotic after all.
“I Don’t Know,” the latest single from the album, is my personal favourite. The song rocks and get full points—perfect score! The song has nice guitar riffs played by Sergejs Jaramišjans and Andrejs Vasiljevs, with great keyboard work by Mihails Sergejevs.
“Waves” has a nice split vocal-whisper lead and some hip lyrics: “When there’s only three seconds left… and our thoughts are just radio waves.” Wow, that’s something to think about. Actually the lyrics on the album are quite imagenary and you have to read between the lines to try to get a grasp of them. The album is rounded off by “Walking Blind”, which is an apropriate finale song. The guitars and drums make me think of The Cranberries. Come to think of it, Sundejeva does resemble Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordon.
The album was produced by Greg Haver who has worked with music giants Manic Street Preachers. He also engineered and mixed the album at Sound Division Studios in Rīga. Haver has done a great job producing this album, using a vast array of sound effects and special microphone techniques. He has certainly has suceeded in tapping the band’s full potential. Mastering was done by Shon Joseph at Optimum Mastering in Bristol, England. All and all, this is a fresh and powerful album that has been polished to perfection.
This album is certainly a real step forward for the evolution of the Latvian music scene. Now there’s an album that can compare with any other album written and recorded in Europe. I feel that Tribes of the City just may have what it takes to break into the larger alternative music scene. In the meantime, let’s have something nice amd warm or cold to drink.
For the Sleepy People
Tribes of the City
Platforma Records, 2006
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