After releasing a slew of successful singles, as well as the recent Repressed Semantics EP having firmly placed Tigercub at the top of the table of current hype bands, you’d perhaps expect the three-piece to rest on their laurels somewhat and release a debut album of what fans would consider greatest hits. However, Tigercub have always struck me as a band that do things their own way and perhaps this is shown by the twelve new tracks on Abstract Figures In The Dark.
Opener ‘Burning Effigies‘, one of the first tracks to be released from the album, showcases the album from the off. Here we see the band experimenting and pushing the envelope of their sound beyond those Nirvana comparisons. ‘Burning Effigies’ itself has more in common with Josh Homme‘s various projects than anything Kurt Cobain ever touched upon, with the opening guitar notes ringing out in a wonderful Quentin Tarantino soundtrack way.
One of my personal favourites from the record, ‘Memory Boy’, is another evolution itself. Resting often upon a fuzz ridden bass, it is a track that is as discordant as it is completely radio friendly with angular guitar playing offset by indie-pop song harmonies, showing off the bands intelligence when it comes to songwriting. While ‘Omen’, with its intricate drumming alongside an absolutely gutwrenching bass tone and a beautifully ugly middle eight guitar section, is a clear standout track and future live favourite. Then there’s ‘Migraine’, a sonic attack that is distorted, aggressive and unpleasant in every way you want a guitar band to be. Here is a track that wouldn’t surprise me if I heard it was Steve Albini produced, offering us a heavier, screamier side of Tigercub that perhaps has been missing previously.
After a rousing start it’s at the midway point of Abstract Figures In The Dark where things start to go a little more eclectic. ‘Control’, based around a bright and repetitive electronica-esque melody, is probably about as accessible as Tigercub have and ever will be. It reigns back on the angsty side of the band in favour of something that can, and probably should be, played on the mainstage of festivals such as Reading and Glastonbury. When you put this alongside the slow grooving, sexual monster that is ‘Serial Killer’ and the oddly acapella closing number ‘Black Tides’, it becomes apparent that this is a band that are unafraid of experimentation and boldly going wherever they want.
While musically it has to be said that are some incredible touches to Abstract Figures In The Dark with each member shining in their own way, it’s some of the lyrics that really stand out. This is an album that has captured the last year or two, politically, with the band clearly full of conflict and perhaps even apathy about the world we find ourselves living in. With lines like ‘Our God’s a made up fraud / Our skies are full of scars’ to ‘You may be living and loving but they’re all dying for nothing’, this is an album that means something – personally and politically.
For a debut album, Abstract Figures In The Dark was perhaps a risk but one that has clearly paid off. It isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination (both the ‘Can You Hear Me Interlude’ and its following track ‘Up In Smoke’ do nothing for the album), but with every listen it grows as infectious as the atrocities many of the lyrics are seemingly about. There is a small part of me that wishes that the likes of ‘Destroy’ and ‘Pictures Of You’ made it onto the album but the fact that they aren’t is perhaps a testament not only to the bands independence as artists but also their confidence in themselves. And rightly so. Abstract Figures In The Dark exhibits a band who don’t need to look to the past to sell records. If this album is evidence then, the future for guitar music is very bright indeed.
Abstract Figures In The Dark is out on November 11th via Alcopop! Records.