Tropical Fuck Storm

Braindrops

(LP - Joyful Noise #JNR 299LPC1)

Review by

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.

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