The Tamborines - Camera and Tremor
A weekend in London coincides with finalising my thoughts on this terrific debut. Traipsing through Covent Garden, I chance upon an unmistakeable stare. Liam Gallagher’s baby blues, blown up to mammoth proportions, fill the window display of his new boutique. My good lady, curious as ever, drags me in. Pfft. For a few rails of £35 t-shirts, I’d say the security was as over the top as the pricing but the anoraked forty-somethings squeak their Adidas in sheepish approval. Gah. Our Liam, by the way, according to a Sunday Times I nab on the tube, rates just three bands these days. Apparently, only Kasabian, The Coral and “a bit of Arctic Monkeys” cut the mustard. Jeez. For a band who sold over 600,000 copies of their second album in the first week alone, thus demolishing for ever the safe haven from which alternative music maintained a critical distance from the infections of the mainstream, Oasis (like their bedraggled city) have so much to answer for. F*** ‘em, eh? If you like your Alternative vaguely alternative, look in here. If you recall with teary fondness an age in which guitar bands dressed like men (rather than sportsmen or children), in which the colour black provided colour, in which musicality reigned and women were welcomed as equals, here’s yet another sign to suggest all is not lost. The Tamborines are f***ing immense. They scorch my starved sensibilities and offer inflamed approval to the above manifesto. (Don’t tell me it’s not a manifesto. It’s a manifesto.)
Crunching, overdriven-beyond-sense riffola and gloriously ghostly vocals frame The Tamborines’ rock ‘n’ roll excesses. Camera and Tremor, despite its gentle heart, its daft soft centre (love in tatters features heavily) and the odd gear change into minor chord balladry, blows the house down. They are Henrique and Lulu. I consider doing a bit of research then abandon it in favour of keeping them as shadowy as their music; the less I know about them at this stage, the more lazily, the more thrillingly I can fall for them. There is time yet to find out where they’re from, how old they are and what cheese they like. For now, I picture leather, pointy shoes and clouds of smoke. As it should be.
The songs are Velvets fuzz through a filter of Mary Chain melodies. At times I catch a whiff of classic Ride or a taste of BRMC. If The Raveonettes float it for you or you nod approvingly every time you see some callow youth in that Daydream Nation t-shirt, then this will be for you. ‘31st Floor’ is the album’s incendiary start and paves the way for The Tamborines’ lovelorn, dreamscapes: “If what you want I cannot give / And words just let you down / Through this darkest dream I'll come / To tell you what I found.” ‘Come Together’, as rampant as it is insanely catchy, gets you believing that this could be it. By the they take a (slight) breather with ‘What Took You so Long’, anything is possible. Fuzzed up and scuzzed up, The Tamborines are as “Black!” as The Fast Show’s Johnny Nice Painter. But they drone in sumptious colour. The closing ‘The Great Division’, thrillingly epic and drawn out, seals the deal, its climactic change of gear irresistible.
Perspective? Well, to quote that great sage David St. Hubbins, you can have “too much f***ing perspective.” This may well be an album awash with its influences. It may well, upon deeper inspection, prove to have nary a single original idea across its eleven tracks. Like I care. Reinvention done with such precision and poise is never to be sniffed at. Camera and Tremor, it pains me to say, is probably twenty years past its sell by date. Amidst the clamour and clang of that glorious late 80s UK indie scene, The Tamborines would have made a home for themselves, filled university halls the length and breadth of the land and fired up the youth with merely a toss of their (black) mops. 2010, still obsessed with what the dopey Gallaghers will do now they’ve finally filed for divorce, just seems too tame to offer radicals like these anything but a supporting role. I pray that I’m wrong.