Tropical Fuck Storm
A Laughing Death in Meatspace


4.5
superb

Review

by keza USER (20 Reviews)
May 25th, 2018 | 284 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A near-perfect experimental post-punk experience.

The Drones are one of Australia’s best post-punk acts, continuing the political themes and zany vocal stylings Midnight Oil left behind with an added dash of experimentation. For whatever reason, lead vocalist Gareth Liddiard saw fit to start a side project under the wonderful name Tropical F*ck Storm, coupling their debut album possibly the most horrifying cover art I’ve seen to date. TFS have crafted an album that at points sounds pretty close to how the artwork looks, and it’s one of the most off-kilter and well-crafted album’s I’ve heard this year.

Central to the album’s success is Gareth’s distinctive vocals; his Australian-accented baritone is equal parts unusual and menacing, his delivery deliberated yet somewhat amateurish. This is nothing surprising to anyone familiar with The Drones; however, he does bring to his trademark croon an added edge which fantastically complements the off-the-wall instrumentals. He spits out most of his winding and absurd lyrics with unique ferocity, and it works in a way that’s hard to describe. His wild delivery on 'You Let My Tyres Down' complements the song’s bizarre lyrics about violence at an infamous local shopping centre and overt drug use. Meanwhile in their most brooding moments, Gareth’s eerie whispered delivery reaches a point of almost inaudibility, sounding at points as if he were sitting alone in a dark room while raving to himself. Equally manic are the vocals Erica Dunn brings to the table, which vary from harmonisation to shrill chanting. On 'Soft Power', the crow-like mantra she delivers in the song’s chorus is nothing short of chilling. The few occasions she takes the lead, her vocals aren’t quite as exciting as Gareth’s delivery, but the manic character they add definitely benefits Meatspace.

As with his work in The Drones, Gareth’s lyrics are decidedly political, and on Meatspace he injects then with even more character. For example 'Chameleon Paint' contains these gems:

“FYI a POV don’t make an NGO,
This scorn porn’s just the showboat spawn of lying in an exit poll”

And, alluding to the controversial Scott Morrison:

“All this scot-free moralising’s got me quite demoralised”

On 'Soft Power', verses begin manically, “Ahh no no no no, this ain’t the way it has to go”, before Gareth manically rants about celebrity, war and other failings of humanity. He verbally tears at the “umpa lumpa with the nukes”, and sardonically questions humanity’s future (“I can't remember anymore - The plan's we're either going to Mars or war”). He also explores the future of humanity on Meatspace through the increasing conflict between humanity and technology. On 'The Future of History', he theorises our relationship with technology will be humanity’s downfall the same way the meteor was to the dinosaurs, with fantastic lines such as:

“If IBM is here to make your dreams come true,
You can probably say the same thing about nightmares too”

To rattle off all the fantastic lyricism on show in this song alone would take the entire review, but essentially what’s present on Meatspace is a mix of witty wordplay and apocalyptic speculation, presented in a sometimes bizarre but always compelling way.

The instrumentation TFS present here is equally fantastic, with plenty of zany, off-kilter and memorable moments. The first thing a fan of The Drones' recent work will notice is that compared to their most recent work, the instrumentation is nearly entirely organic, and noticeably rougher. This is apparent from the first bends of 'You Let My Tyres Down', where loosely played bends, lurching drums, and unsettling harmonics all set the tone carried through the album. On 'Antimatter Animals' (incidentally what I think are featured on the cover art), strangely syncopated guitars give way in the verses to synth bass and eerie ornamentation. Album closer 'Rubber Bullies' sounds like an Art Punk band taking on a King Gizzard track, with similarly off-key guitar leads over a mid-tempo backdrop. The one complaint I have about the instrumentation here is that it somewhat lacks the lush, intricate construction that made The Drones' last couple of albums so fantastic. However, its loose nature does give the record a sense that each track could fall apart at any second. It feels as though the band are playing unrehearsed in a cobwebbed garage, which actually creates a wilder, more visceral listening experience.

The only moment of Meatspace that really disappoints is Shellfish Toxin. According to a Noisey interview, this purely instrumental track was “a bit of a Frankenstein project” constructed from “lots of spare parts”, and it unfortunately sounds exactly like that. While cool in concept, the track doesn’t do anything across its five and a half minutes to justify its existence on the album, and sounds as disjointed as its construction.

All said, Meatspace is a uniquely fantastic post-punk experience. With apocalypse-anticipating lyrical themes, other-worldly instrumentation and passionate performances, TFS’s debut is a thought-provoking and engaging record that more people need to hear.



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user ratings (201)
Chart.
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sharkattack
May 24th 2018


1000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds both really cool and awful at the same time.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 24th 2018


24349 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it’s mostly rly cool

verdant
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2018


2395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

can confirm this is not at all awful and very much cool and good

Hawks
May 24th 2018


68337 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not awful at all it's awesome.

Digging: Venom Prison - Samsara

keza
May 24th 2018


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah it's mostly really cool...haven't really heard anything like it before.

Also their band name is so satisfying to say.

theBoneyKing
May 24th 2018


16132 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fucking great album. I’ve had “Chameleon Paint” stuck in my head all day.

Digging: Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica

pizzamachine
May 24th 2018


14132 Comments


Fantastic band name 👌🏻

Astral Abortis
May 25th 2018


6745 Comments


Pls stop calling the Drones "post-punk".
They primarily play different styles of garage/noise rock and punk blues.

keza
May 25th 2018


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I mean it's great how genres are subjective like that aye...and this album is definitely more postpunk anyway

Astral Abortis
May 25th 2018


6745 Comments


Genres aren't subjective.
And this album is less post-punk than anything ever released, ever.
Do you know what post-punk is?

Hawks
May 25th 2018


68337 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Snox go throw a few recs on my list bro.

keza
May 25th 2018


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I mean there are objective traits to genres but defining whether a band is postpunk or bluespunk or both or just punk or just rock broadly definitely has a subjective nature to it...there's a debate to be had but this album DEFINITELY has postpunk traits to it

Idk man happy to have the conversation but not interested in arguing absolutes

Astral Abortis
May 25th 2018


6745 Comments


Then band themselves call it "art punk", which isn't far off concerning Liddiard's tendency for wild experimentation and punk aesthetics. The blues roots of his Nick Cave-y style still remain but he's definitely carved his own style these past few years, one which has a great tendency to blend wildly angular noise rock stylings with his newfound electronic dabbling which adds industrial undertones to his blend of experimental art rock, punk blues, and old school noise rock aesthetics.


Post punk is a genre that was developed after the initial breakout of punk music, and is more known for its poppy structures, blended with krautrock and dub and funk, etc., alongside with no wave that created something of a movement that experimented with these ideas and genres.

The Drones and Tropical Fuck Storm have roughly zero connection to any post punk of past or present.

keza
May 25th 2018


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I agree with art punk and blues punk for their sound, however do you really need to have connection to a genre to be classified/conceptualised as such? I mean honestly it's fairly petty to split hairs over genres, like sure it's helpful when recommending music to people but it doesn't change how good this album is

verdant
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2018


2395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

snoxdude did you neg this review just because you didn't like the album being labelled as post punk hahahahah

Astral Abortis
May 25th 2018


6745 Comments


No, that would be stupid.

Sniff
May 25th 2018


5440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can confirm album is better than Snox attitude towards newcomers

Astral Abortis
May 25th 2018


6745 Comments


I negged it due to the poor structure, the informal nature of how it references members based on their first names. The reuse of certain words in the span of a single paragraph. The complete lack of consistency when referencing lyrics. The inconsistencies in capitalisation in particular nouns. The wrong uses of capitalisation in particular nouns. The inconsistency in the use of inverted commas. The spelling errors. And the general fact that it doesn't read well.

Astral Abortis
May 25th 2018


6745 Comments


I'm really grumpy these days and I take it out on this website.

Hawks
May 25th 2018


68337 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hahahahahahaha I love Snox.



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