The Tribes’ frontman, Johnny Lloyd, returns with a collection of joyous, anthemic singalongs.
Release Date: 16th July 2021
Label: Xtra Mile Recordings
Formats: CD, Gold vinyl LP, Download, Streaming
Now here’s a nice way to celebrate the summer and the slow march back to normality. Johnny Lloyd, sometime front-man of The Tribes has just released his third solo album, and it’s packed with joyous singalong anthems that leave a lasting sense of feel-good with anyone that hears them.
Johnny Lloyd has indeed been very busy lately. He spent the early part of 2021 composing the material for this album, and he’s also managed to cram in the production of the Original Sound Track for the Rare Beasts movie. La La La features 14 brand new tracks and covers a wide range of musical bases, including folk, country, new wave and even a splash of white soul. The album wears its influences proudly and you don’t have to look too hard to detect strains of the aforementioned Dylan, alongside other diverse guiding lights such as The Waterboys, U2, The Cure, The Stranglers, The Beatles and even a touch of Fleetwood Mac. But don’t run away with the impression that this album is derivative in any way; Johnny has taken his influences and moulded them into his own shapes, for his own purpose.
Max Clilverd and Nathan Coen have helped Johnny with the La La La production responsibilities, and the team have done an excellent job in creating a clean, well-balanced sound with crystal-clear vocals. Although many of the songs were written during the depths of winter, the overall impression gained from a listen to La La La is a picture of summer and a feeling of revitalization.
The album kicks off with the lead single, 2367, a smooth, summery, sophisticated tune with a solid bass foundation, light drums and some lovely, weeping, guitar. There are soulful tones, a none-too-subtle Beatles reference and the first of the album’s several catchy refrains to enjoy, and it’s a great way to start the fun.
We take a slight diversion into electronic pop with the aptly-named Joyopolis, before veering sharp left with the wonderful ukulele song, Moments on Earth, in which Johnny takes us on a journey through his life, stopping off at various landmark events, including sitting on his grandad’s knee, taking the stage with The Tribes in 2012 and finding his life partner in 2019. It’s a great story and a nice tune.
The fact that so many consecutive tracks make for unusual bedfellows is one of the album’s most endearing points. By way of further example, About Time, a rich, sentimental, ponderous and thoughtful piano ballad is followed by the folky, baroque Subscription, a tune that reminds me of The Stranglers’ Golden Brown, until it starts to get particularly ghostly and creepy as it reaches its howling guitar-drenched climax.
I like the sparse drum-led backing and the splashes of twangy guitar that are a feature of Perfect Body. The tune is described as the album’s Cure-esque indie song and I can see where that opinion comes from, although the song is perhaps a bit poppier and more accessible than the standard Cure product. The two acoustic numbers Night Guard and Don’t Swim Stoned both feature amongst the album’s true highlights. Both are country-flavoured; Night Guard is embellished with some sublime pedal steel touches and the acoustic guitar picking on Don’t Swim Stoned is simply marvellous – think Lyndsey Buckingham on Never Going Back Again…
Fans of the catchy singalongs will enjoy the Dylanesque Beautiful World before the shuffling rocker Close to Home brings in a taste of The Waterboys. It’s On You is an easy-paced country ballad with a rocky, anthemic coda and some divine touches on the pedal steel before the short, chugging, Touch The Sun brings in a flavour of U2, and then it’s back for another taste of The Waterboys and another anthemic close-out with the album’s penultimate track, In The City.
Album closer, God Bless Ronnie Wood is, as the song’s title suggests, intended as a tribute to the well-loved Rolling Stone. As Johnny is keen to point out: “Ronnie Wood is my ultimate hero. He’s the ultimate kind of guitarist in that he plays for the band. In the seventies when everyone in The Stones was trying to play up front, he just really slotted in perfectly. I just love him, so I wrote this song about him… It’s about keeping your chin up and carrying on, which I think Ronnie would always represent. He keeps the mood upbeat and carries on and has a laugh doing it.” The sing itself is an acoustic singalong, rather than the strutting rocker you may expect; it’s full of the La La La’s that give the album its title and it’s great fun. An excellent way to conclude a most enjoyable, diverse, album.
Watch the Official Lyric Video to 2367, the lead single from the album, here: