When we last checked in on this old Canadian indi band, it was on the 1994 EP So This is Limbo, which I rated a 2.75/5. I haven’t played Tangible Vibe, the full length followup, in quite a few years. I remember liking it back in 1996, when hard rock was all but dead and we were forced to seek out other kinds of rock music. Will I still like it now?
“Another Low” is a pretty simple pop punk track, not the kind of thing I usually listen to. It’s fast with heavy guitars and poppy vocals. What stands in for a guitar solo is a simple melody. It’s more annoying than likable. “Frustrated” is more entertaining, taking the tempo back to a radio-ready pace. Seems that I still like this one! You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a new single by Sum 41. Hopefully you’ll forgive me for liking it. Back then we didn’t call this stuff “pop-punk”, we called it “alt-rock”.
I recall liking “Living Proof” which sounds very much like Green Day. It’s still a catchy little tune, that just it needs identity. There’s certainly no reason it couldn’t have been a hit. On the other hand, I remember not caring too much for “Headtrip”. Its seemingly pro-drug message didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t think the song had much individuality going for it. My feelings haven’t changed too much although I do appreciate the great vocal performance and guitars, but it could have been half as long.
Then and now, I love the title track “Tangible Vibe”. Almost Monkees-like, it’s a soft rocker with a heavier chorus. I really like the recurring guitar melody. Maybe I shouldn’t say Monkees-like, when I have heard Weezer do songs similar to this. It’s a standout and now that I have re-discovered it, I plan on playing it a lot more. Equally good is “Kill Me Slowly” which again is firmly in pop-punk territory, with vocal harmonies.
As back in 1996, “Mary” bores me. It feels like it’s a repeat of ideas from previous songs. Such is the problem with these simple melodies. Sure they’re catchy, but you run the risk of ideas that sound too similar. There’s nothing wrong with it, but we’ve heard it before. “Amore di Gatto” (“Love Cat”?) is a beautiful classical guitar intro to the dark song “Circus”. This song has more in common with Deadline’s early hard rock roots than modern pop rock. It’s mournful with with the strong melodies still intact, and a tricky guitar solo to boot. It has the most emotion on on the album, and remains its best song.
“I Don’t Even Like You” is fast and fun; the drums are played with brushes and the guitars are acoustic. It’s one of the shortest songs, which good because novelty songs are best kept short. “Friend In Me” was the “hit”, and it’s the exact same version as on the So This is Limbo EP, which is great. Closer “Go With the Flow” is another Green Day copycat, unfortunately. It’s the early, heavier side of Green Day, but still the comparisons are unavoidable.
Shame. A really great EP could have been made from the best songs on this album.