Many artists claim to have written albums reflecting the mood of the COVID-19 lockdowns, but perhaps no one is as well equipped to capture the swirling madness of mundanity than Tropical Fuck Storm. While their third record encompasses more than isolation-induced insanity, the interdimensional prism through which their sound is filtered reflects a feeling of powerlessness in the face of an ever stranger, information-overloaded reality. As with their last album, it can often be hard to discern exactly what is going on within the music, as it squeals and squirms, sometimes on the edge of perception, in a marvelously disjointed fashion. Yet somehow it doesn't fall to pieces, upholding at least a semblance of cohesion. In fact, the second half contains some of their most straightforward songwriting, acting as an equally brilliant counterweight to their more chaotic side.
If such thing as a formula could be applied to TFS, it would be represented in the opening track, "The Greatest Story Ever Told," as it follows the bombastic standard set by the openers on their previous albums. The massive chorus is relatively listener-friendly, before diving right into the deep end and "G.A.F.F." Often unintelligible lyrics, and an overall chaotic presentation, make "G.A.F.F." impenetrable at first. The backing vocals provide enough of an anchor, yet even they twist out of shape at times; at one point, the high notes are replaced by instrumentation that later harmonizes back with the vocals. The oddness continues through the sci-fi stutter of "Blue Beam Baby" and the subtle menace of "Suburbiopia." "The Donkey" snaps the record back into focus, acting as an explosive example of how TFS can have more direct moments without sacrificing the sense of unease that permeates the band. "New Romeo Agent" and "Legal Ghost" continue down a more ponderous path, the latter of which is an absolute highlight for the record. A really strong groove underpins the track, and anthemic guitar lines give it weight and a sense of class. The ending coda, "The Confinement of Quarks," is a warped slice of '80s nostalgia that bleeds warmth and melancholy in equal measure, making for a wistful closer.
Tropical Fuck Storm are a niche band who only lean harder into their corner of the universe. That they manage to craft loose, weird psychedelic rock and have it be so catchy is impressive, but still off-putting for anyone who likes cleaner guitars or easily digestible lyrics. For those on board with the group's flagrant disregard for conventional songwriting, Deep States is willing to descend even further down the rabbit hole, with the band offering a good time despite all the twists and turns.