Tropical Fuck Storm
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 23, 2019 | Joyful Noise Recordings
Although only a year had passed since their debut, Tropical Fuck Storm have managed to tap into an even deeper vein of strange on their second record. The will to go further comes after the significant validation they received for A Laughing Death in Meatspace. Backed by greater faith from their label, they found the means through added instrumentation and a free pass to let loose. The ramp up in intensity is laid out on opening track "Paradise," which begins as a crooner akin to King Krule before exploding into looming guitars and strained vocals and ending with a truly chaotic blow-out. The opening act plays out much the same way, with extra scraggly guitar lines and an oddly gaited rhythm section, complemented by Fiona Kitschin's soaring vocals and Gareth Liddiard's hoarse disdain. The first half closes on "The Happiest Guy Around," featuring a Soviet space organ pushed with reckless abandon to an utterly bonkers climax -- it's peak TFS. The tried-and-tested structure of buildup and release is a bit misleading, though, as the second half of the album sees the band settle into a more subdued mode, playing up to melancholy and washed-out vibes. This makes a little more space for the lyrical content, which is similar to their debut in that it's just as insightful and dense while remaining outside of straightforward sense -- it's as ripe as ever to be picked over, but ultimately it's designed to glean subjective meaning. They even manage to fit in another burned-out instrumental with "Desert Sands of Venus" before finishing with a fictional alt-right conspiracy on "Maria 63," a theme only made clear by Liddiard's comments on the sheer absurdity of it all. Braindrops feels very much like a sequel, making the debut required listening if there's any hope to pick up on the threads found here; they have moved even further toward unconventional rock standards, which diminishes some of the impact their songwriting has had in the past, but they've replaced it with mind-bending sonic exploration and a surreal quality. Tropical Fuck Storm are fast becoming a watering hole for listeners with a thirst for the weird, and on Braindrops, they have eschewed formulas to such an extent that they are now staring back through the dimensional mirror with wry smiles and killer tunes. ~ Liam Martin
Alternative & Indie - Released May 4, 2018 | Joyful Noise Recordings
After the indefinite hiatus of Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin's former band, the Drones, the pair began concocting their next musical adventure, choosing to sidestep any rules they picked up along the way. After conceiving the idea for Tropical Fuck Storm -- along with the recruitment of Erica Dunn (Palm Springs) and Lauren Hammel (High Tension) -- the group ran straight over the cliff of conventional rock to explore the stranger side of psych. Everything on A Laughing Death in Meatspace is loose; it's chaos, but not in an overbearing noise-related sense. There are elements of blues, psychedelic rock, and art-punk, but TFS actively resist any concrete genre tags, which gives them the freedom to walk a familiar path before sharply turning into something else. Tracks are unpredictable, writhing underneath Liddiard's vocals as he drawls and strains his delivery and complimented by Kitschin's harmonious backing vocals when the occasion requires. Lyrically there's a lot to filter through, with layers of allegory and a dense poetic delivery. A scholarly approach reveals much deeper meaning in the lyrics, as they take stabs at online culture, politics, and the mess we're in as a species, yet they can be enjoyed on a surface level for their disorienting nature alone. For all that talk of unpredictability, there are similar patterns that emerge. Often the pace creeps along only to give way to cacophonous relief, as shown on the opener, "You Let My Tyres Down," yet it persists throughout the track list, including the following song, "Antimatter Animals." TFS take a funkier turn on "The Future of History" before settling into a dread-soaked atmosphere, which seems fitting for the despair buried in Liddiard's lyrics. As the album closes, they reveal a string of fresh twists, including their most anomalous song, "Shellfish Toxin," which gradually deteriorates like an acid trip at the beach gone wrong. They choose to bow out in rapturous style on "Rubber Bullies," a sermon to escapism and vapid travelers. Throughout the record, Tropical Fuck Storm intentionally eschew formulaic song structure, relying on unconventional songwriting rather than mining pseudo-psych-rock. As a result, the sense of apocalyptic adventure is palpable; luckily, it's a joy to go along for the ride. ~ Liam Martin
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