Saturday, 6 February 2016

Album Review: Twists'n'Turns by The Tips

Germany is not a country you would immediately think of when talking about reggae music. But then I was told about a reggae punk band from Düsseldorf named The Tips. On February the 19th they have a new record called Twists'n'Turns coming out on Long Beach Records.

Twist'n'Turns starts out with a bang. Opening song Birds In A Tree is a rocking reggae track featuring Benji Webbe of Welsh reggae metalheads Skindred. The crunching guitars at the start of the song really get you pumped up before some smooth reggae rhythms come together during the verse. Lead singer Ali really demonstrates a strong vocal ability on the track. Of course the highlight of the song is Webbe's performance at the end of the track, laying down some of his trademark vocals. Leaving Home sees The Tips sway more towards a modern reggae sound. The best band to compare them to would be The Skints. This track is a song about immigration, a topic that has been debated more and more other the past year. Lyrically the song is superb, looking at both sides of the arguments (though I suspect the opinions given against immigration were very tongue-in-cheek). Wasting Time is a very chilled summer anthem. As I write this it's actually snowing outside but the laid back sound of the song is making me wish I was at Frinton beach (the best beach in the UK) relaxing with my friends. The opening chords of Chosen Fool feel like they have a lot of intent and that something serious is about to happen. Ali's sweet vocals carry the melody of the verses before they build towards a big punk rock chorus. This song is a political track that claims that politicians are the "chosen fool".

Track number five is named Johnny's Song. On my first listen of Twist'n'Turns this song really caught me off guard. The reggae rhythms are ditched, for the beginning of the song at least, instead The Tips play some straightforward punk rock in a similar vein to the legendary Bad Religion. A couple of times during the song the reggae does return and I like the combination of the two, contrasting styles here - it really makes for an excellent song. Up next is a song titled If You Want To. This is some down-tempo, laid back reggae pop music. I really enjoyed the story telling style of the lyrics. The track never really hits any highs but manages to keep my attention throughout. City Lights is a reggae rock song similar in style to album opener Birds In A Tree. The track goes along at a methodical pace allows all three members of The TIps to show off their musical skill. There is some wonderful guitar playing towards the end of the song. The chorus is superbly catchy and is almost chant-like in delivery, something that will really excite a live crowd. Alien has a very dark and serious tone to it. It's another song about immigration and takes a look through the eyes of somebody who has lost their home and doesn't feel like they belong anywhere. There is a beautiful section of the song where everything is stripped back and a little pit of piano is included before a big finale.

Parade picks up the pace with a punk rock introduction before Ali puts down some up-tempo vocals. I'm reminded of Dutch/American reggae punks Jaya The Cat during the song, just Ali sings much better than Geoff. I'm also reminded of Muse during the chorus. Combining the sounds of Jaya The Cat and Muse really shouldn't work but somehow The Tips manage to pull it off. Parade is followed up by another ace paced song named Do It Right. This song incorporates some keyboard, which adds a great extra element to it. After an extended intro some bouncy vocals kick in. The beat of the whole song really makes me want to get up and have a dance, it’s infectious. The penultimate track on Twists'n'Turns is titled Back In The Days and is another summery reggae pop tune that also has more than a hint of funk involved. Ali shows off a great vocal range on a song that really reminds me of Maroon Five. I can see this song being a crowd favourite, especially with its "na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na" breakdown. Still Turning brings to the album to an end. This is a sombre sounding acoustic song. It shows another fantastic side of The Tips fantastic sound but I think I found it a slightly disappointing way to finish the album. I like an album to finish with an up-tempo flourish and bang.

I really didn't know what to expect when I sat down to review Twists'n'Turns and if I'm being completely honest I was quite apprehensive about doing it. I'm glad I gave it a chance though; The Tips are a band that could and should be on everyone's radar very soon.

Like The Tips here: