So we’re back here again, back to the point where the current crop of British bands are tapping into a vast well of ’90s influences and sensibilities to become far more interesting than those that came before. Even in the waning weeks of 2016 there are still more coming out of the woodwork, just like Tigercub, the Brighton trio who made their first major splash with their Repressed Semantics EP at the tail end of last year. And with a sound that was like the lovechild of the Pixies and Queens Of The Stone Age, it’s hardly surprising that the buzz surrounding their debut full-length has been fairly considerable in the underground and indie scenes.
And thankfully, Abstract Figures In The Dark lives up to expectations in spectacular fashion; Tigercub take ragged, psychedelia-flecked desert rock to its upper limit, being catchy and accessible while remaining thoroughly organic and wild. It all comes down to a much greater final product than just another big chorus band with a bit more muscle in the guitars; Abstract Figures… drags itself across the ground, driven by slithering, almost post-punk basslines that lend a tremendous amount of snarl and gravity. Even in its weaker tracks like Up In Smoke or The Golden Ratio, they still remain raw and interesting thanks to the thick, muggy coat of psychedelic distortion slathered all over them, and as such, it makes for a particularly consistent listen.
It’s one that seems to come fairly naturally as well, given the smoothness and level of dust-splattered cool that this album runs with, not totally unlike Josh Homme’s arena-baiting troupe. But for all the QOTSA comparisons that can justifiably be made, Tigercub are, at their core, their own beast, largely down to their music’s intrinsic darkness. Whereas Homme is frequently painted as the old-school, cigarettes-and-brandy lothario, Tigercub’s Jamie Hall is grounded in dense realism, be it constant paranoia and second guessing that fuels Control or the jabs at Internet trolls and keyboard warriors on Serial Killer. It’s suitably dank and brooding, especially with Hall’s sneering delivery, and meshed with the instrumentation in a broader context, it’s made all the more heavy and oppressive. The gurgling bass and squalling guitars of Memory Boy; the screeching noise-rock of Migraine; the ominous, circular clatter of Black Tides that comes across almost like a slave chant in its minimalism; there’s definitely more of an edge to Tigercub compared to a lot of British alt-rock bands, and they seem to have gone down the same path as Pulled Apart By Horses did on their first couple of albums, wholeheartedly embracing it but making it palatable to the unaccustomed.
It’s fortunate too, as where Pulled Apart By Horses are currently wavering, Tigercub are the perfect band to take the baton from them. There’s potential for widespread appeal on Abstract Figures In The Dark, but it’s one that’s coated with the type of excitement and capriciousness that you’d want and expect from a modern rock band. Though it’ll be hard work to see them get the adulation they rightly deserve (their dirtier, more organic sound isn’t exactly what the people are after right now), 2017 will be absolutely crucial in seeing Tigercub become the force they have every capability of being. With a jumping off point as high as this, that’s an exciting prospect.
For fans of: Queens Of The Stone Age, Pulled Apart By Horses, Royal Blood
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Abstract Figures In The Dark’ by Tigercub is out now on Alcopop! Records.