There’s nothing tribal about the sound of these Aussies, and they don’t scream either. Their music is full of pop-song harmonies, including “oohh” and “ahh” background singing, jangle chords and repeated refrains. From beginnings as a post-Ramones punky ensemble (on the first four-track EP), they’ve gone through an assortment of members and sonic textures but all of their releases have been exercises in good old pop-rock. Move a Little Closer, a compilation of the band’s first two Australian singles (“Igloo” and “A Stand Alone”) could easily mix and match with a stack of mod-revival albums, while the squealier and grungier guitar chords of Date with a Vampyre (also four songs) nudge their sound closer to garage territory.
Top of the Town contains six songs by a new lineup that reveals an ongoing transition towards more mainstream pop-rock. “You Better Run” is the most impressive track, and a fair precursor to the excellent Bones + Flowers. The album launches the Tribesmen into a new international league, offering richly played rock-melody songwriting (by ex-Radio Birdman guitarist/pianist/producer Chris “Klondike” Masuak and singer/guitarist Mick Medew) that’s got all the needed attributes for major stardom. Standouts: a new version of “Igloo,” the wittily ’60sish “Our Time at Last,” the peppy Anglo-popping “Dream Away” and the Rockpiling “Living Vampire.” The CD has two bonus tracks.
Despite the album’s appeal and high commercial prospects, nothing much came of Bones + Flowers. By the time of the disappointing 1989 12-inch (five songs, including covers of Lou Reed and the Dictators), Medew was the only member remaining from the LP’s lineup.