Sometimes the nature and character of a band bears no relevance to their name, the name acts only as a label or identifier. However, this is definitely not the case for Australian band Tropical Fuck Storm, whose name seems to define the course of their music and describe it seamlessly. The tropical essence of the band is clear within the lyrics and atmosphere of the album. It’s hard not to strangely enjoy the regional Australian taste that is so authentically tied into each track on the band’s latest album Braindrops. Their ability to genuinely collect the sincere character of rural Australia into a sound is a phenomenon. The fuck character of the album is evident within the general angst of the album, with odes to psychological manipulation, lost loves and the planets environmental downfall. The music however is where they satisfy the Storm in the title, there is chaos within their music, moments of calm, whips of notes, downpours of guitar and monsoons of bass.
Paradise, the opening track and previous single from Braindrops, is a standout. The song opens with a familiar dropping, spiralling guitar, sounding like a snake charmer, joined by the pained vocals of lead singer Gareth Liddiard. Liddiard sounds like he’s walking a tight rope, flinching and resolute with lyrics that are graphic and potent with experience: “and this moment is losing its patience,” he sings. The backing vocals of Erica Dunn and Fiona Kitschin bring a sort of lightness to the gravelly tones of Liddiard’s vocals, and the screaming guitars give the track verisimilitude. Paradise is an angry love song about modern relationships. It delves into the confusion of unrequited romance, when a relationship gets to the point where the only thing left to do is accept that you’re about to be hurt. The track ends with a cyclone of noise, reflective of the end of a relationship.
The album explores some interesting ideas behind our abuse of the planet, and the rippling effects of climate change. This is especially true within the track The Planet of Straw Men. The ability to unpack Tropical Fuck Storm’s lyrics with erudite intention is one thing that makes this band so significant. The Planet of Straw Men articulates how we (the straw men), hollow pieces made for sucking things up, “want the glory of a coup de grace”; the glory of delivering the final death blow to the planet. These lyrics are paired with swells of drums from arrant genius Lauren Hammel and cheeky bass lines Kitshin.
Another intriguing track on Braindrops is Who’s My Eugene. The music is slinky and beaten, slightly fracturing. There’s this continual eerie guitar plucks, that transforms into more of that discordant guitar. Tropical Fuck Storm’s fusion of eclectic dance beats with heavily distorted guitars and even heavier vocals turns the album into an unknown push and grab, that despite the varied tone, commits to an overall atmosphere of confusion. Who’s My Eugene is about the tragic story of Beach Boys member and musical genius Brian Wilson, and the psychological abuse he suffered from the hands of psychologist Eugene Landy. Guitarist Erica Dunn takes over lead vocals from Liddiard in this track and provides an even eerier taste to the song. Repeat listens reveal the principal question Erica is asking: who is psychologically manipulating me, creating my downfall, and with the outro “I didn’t realise you were part of me” she wonders if it is her who is her own Eugene.
Aspirin is a track of seasoned tones, choruses of regret and nostalgia. Beginning with the collective sounds of a melancholic junkyard, the hook within the lyrics is familiar and tasteful, like those moments where the world is shuffling past you and you stand in your own bubble, curious but unfeeling. Liddiard seems to list parts of his life with blaring clarity, and this list has an Australiana universality to them: “The ash tray by the milk crate in the yard… the old Toyota van I sold for parts.” It further provides through Australian vernacular that ambience of rural ‘Straya’.
The soul of Tropical Fuck Storm lays open and bare within their second album release, Braindrops. The combination of psychedelic hard rock, with electronic droning beats and lyrics like some sort of fucked-up poetry, make this band a creative reboot that so enormously deviates from the Drones. Allowing Liddiard and Kitschin to tear a new pathway, it’s nasty but satisfying to have an Australian band which so acutely taps into the culture of regional Australia the way that Tropical Fuck Storm do.