In LCD Soundsystem’s Losing My Edge, James Murphy talks about hipster bands who have “sold your guitars and bought turntables”, which describes modern musicians who get bored easily and switch between musical genres to try and keep up with prevailing trends. George Mercer, formerly of indie band Boy Lights Fire, has gone down a similar path recently, ditching his rock-oriented style for a more electronic approach.
His efforts as My Tribe Your Tribe feel a lot more genuine than those of the bands Murphy was describing though. The electronic approach seems to suit Mercer quite well and there is still a backdrop of guitar and more traditional indie stylings that blends nicely with the more experimental side of things.
After a solid debut EP as My Tribe Your Tribe earlier this year, Mercer is back with ‘Vol. 2’ and the newer volume complements the first while also building on it. Opener Sunset is a good beginning to proceedings here. It is carried by a sun-drenched, Balearic house-style beat, which could be reasonably compared to New Order. The way the guitar is subtly added to the mix and Mercer’s clouded vocals emphasise the comparison.
Portrait of Failure begins with a synth line that brings to mind the criminally underrated Factory Floor album from a few months back, and other artists on the DFA label. Mercer does manage to bring his own personality to the table as well though. It sounds like it’s ready to kick off into a dance song but Mercer grounds the song in his more subdued songwriting style. The melody of the song doesn’t quite catch you as much as the synth part but it is an interesting subversion of expectations nonetheless.
Safest Place From Home starts out in a similar way but the vocal melody is a lot more palatable, covering up some fairly dark lyrics; “teeth pulled from a skull and she’s laughing” being a particularly alarming line. While the songs contain elements of dance music, Mercer’s lyrics clearly reflect a more personal, indie-oriented persona. Brave Reunion clocks in at almost eight minutes long. It sounds good initially but is fairly repetitive. This may satisfy patient listeners but the song doesn’t really change up enough as it goes on to justify its length.
So there are some missteps on this EP but there is plenty of good to balance these out. The way earwormy electronic sounds are juxtaposed with downbeat indie songwriting makes for a consistently engaging listen and shows an artist not afraid to try things out. The mix of accessible and experimental makes this EP a good listen but also suggests that My Tribe Your Tribe may have something bigger and better in store in the future.