Until their disband six years ago, Johnny Lloyd was the leather-clad, floppy-haired leader of garage-rock rascals Tribes, but those crashing cymbals and scream-until-your-throat’s-raw anthems are no longer in the picture. Billed as the opening of a new chapter in Lloyd’s career, ‘Next Episode…’ more closely resembles a whimpering goodbye to an already long-gone golden era.
For the most part, the album is a much more sombre collection of songs that finds Johnny getting to grips with settling down into the humdrum of growing up, realised through a gentle, alt-folk sound. Where guitars once ricocheted with feedback, they’re now raw and acoustic, joined by twinkling piano and harmonica. His vocal is the linchpin in the act, no longer rough-cut and unpredictable as it once was, but steady and tinged with a bluesy quality.
Lloyd has had a way with nestling deep subtext in the snappiest one-liners, and he partly still does, but ‘Next Episode’ folds out more like one long, drawling monologue laden with pessimism. The title track is a sad admission that the good times have ended and real life isn’t such a neat alternative to wake up to, and ‘I’ll Be Me’ gets caught between a ballad to self acceptance and a sigh of disappointment at what could have been, but it’s on ‘Modern Pornography’ that he says it best: “we used to have it all knocking at the door / when did it all get so sad?”