Once Johnny Lloyd’s Indie four-piece Tribes disbanded in 2013, their demise was met with the overriding feeling that they had been the right band at the wrong time.
Formed in 2010, Tribes harked back to early noughties Camden bar rock, with a strong artillery of tracks that were in equal parts melodic and raucous.
Songs like ‘We Were Children’ and ‘Sappho’, which may have flirted with chart success a decade earlier, struggled to gain momentum in a time when Indie-rock was sitting in remission. And following their second LP Wish To Scream, Tribes were seemingly over before they began.
Low Fidelity: Vol 1 sees Johnny airing 20 demo recordings, which span his solo career. These tracks, the release of which has been described by the artist himself as a ‘cathartic exercise’, flow like a scrapbook of Lloyd’s journey since 2014.
This journey extends beyond the realms of music, with the former Tribes frontman falling in love with actress Billie Piper and welcoming their first child earlier this year.
Lloyd made the wise decision to not include any demos from his 2019 album Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds, which would have been frankly confusing less than a year after the LP’s release.
Low Fidelity does, instead, feature early demos of fan favourites, such as Happy Humans and Pilgrims – both salvaged from the 8-track recorder that originally housed the demos.
The cynic in us might consider this entire exercise to be a touch (or a whole heap) self-indulgent from an artist who isn’t in possession of a famously extensive or sought-after back catalogue.
When you let the tracks speak for themselves, however, their sweetness is undeniable. The release’s stripped-back presentation allows the listener to hear the heart in each song. Tracks such as ‘Joy Ride’, with rudimentarily layered vocals and muted guitar hooks, make for listening that is concurrently breezy and heartfelt.
This no-frills delivery and long track listing does leave flaws with nowhere to hide. A few melodies are cheekily borrowed from counterparts on the album and the tracklisting could easily have been trimmed by a quarter.
Low Fidelity: Vol 1 is definitely worth a listen, the album’s lo-fi aesthetic is nothing if not charming and its release through indie label Xtra Mile gives it a real sense of underdog authenticity.
Johnny Lloyd’s songwriting credibility is evident. If he can continue to perfect his role as an artist and play key sets – such as his performance on Glastonbury’s Greenpeace stage earlier this year – then this release will one day be recognised as a valuable treasure chest of historical nuggets.