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Tubelord hail from Kingston upon Thames; generically, they’re part of a minor movement in contemporary post-hardcore, ‘math pop’, combining the unpredictable tempo changes, powerful poly-rhythms and intricate axe-work of math rock, and the vocal hooks and accessible structures of popular music. As a little offshoot in the UK post-hardcore scene, has produced some great bands (Colour and Meet Me in St. Louis come to mind, both bands now split). Unfortunately, Tubelord aren’t quite as good as these guys. Their debut, Our First American Friends, puts a lot of emphasis on the band’s vocal work – group-shout, and lots of dueling vocal lines, high in the mix. It can tend to push the interesting, math-y elements out of the mix, in terms of both the actual listening experience (you get an ear full of, let’s be honest, not that great post-hardcore lyrics, and the punishing rhythmic change-ups are pushed in to the background) and the band’s songs themselves, which accommodate vocal hooks at the expense of math-rock values like ‘unpredictability’ and ‘mindfucking’. It’s the price you pay for the ‘pop’ elements of math pop, I suppose. There are some moments on First American Friends where the balance is excellent, tracks like Somewhere Out There a Dog is on Fire and Your Bed is Kind of Frightening. But ultimately, Our First American Friends is just a bit too tame to leave a lasting impression.

**1/2