Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace

Not often does a band name so perfectly fit the sound they create, but this album is both by, and evocative of a, Tropical Fuck Storm. A chaotic but brilliant debut from an Australian ‘supergroup’ fronted by former Drones’ man Gareth Liddiard and members of High Tension and Mod Con. 

Sarah Lay reviews. 

Label: Mistletone / TFS Records.
Released: 4 May 2018

Barely a year after forming Australian ‘supergroup’ Tropical Fuck Storm has released debut album A Laughing Death In Meatspace, packed start to finish with brilliantly chaotic and wonderfully wild energy.

Formed by Drones man Gareth Liddiard, and bandmate Fiona Kitschin to reinvigorate their approach to music and their sound they’ve been joined by Lauren Hammel (High Tension) and Erica Dunn (Mod Con). Together their are beating out anarchic an unapologetic frenetic free-form tracks of sound-clashed punk. And when we say punk we don’t mean your faux-show snarled fashion punk, but that pure punk ethos where creativity and raw energy are foremost.

This is an album of fast-pace, of beginnings, and of captured-in-the-moment cuts. Male/female vocals are as much rhythm as the thrashed out drums, and everything is interspersed with jolts of discordant sound,  break-downs of droned vocals from Liddiard. The politics creeping in to the lyrics are personal rather than pointed, reflecting how unavoidable a stance is even when you don’t set out to take one.

The garage-rock stretch of ‘You Let My Tyres Down’, full of off-kilter harmony and spangling strums is a misleading start, only hinting at the album’s experimental direction as it blooms at the chorus, pulls at its leash in unstructured and squalling breakdowns.

Lead single ‘Chameleon Paint’ has a scrappy bounce, a whirling texture underpinning the main guitar line while ‘The Future Of The History’ is a scratched out vocal rhythm above crunching beats as through pithy lyrics the 1997 Kasparov / Deep Blue chess match is relived. Cynical side eye is given to the dystopia we all face here as well as on the title track and elsewhere; human downfall to machine is imagined and presented throughout.

Instrumental ‘Shellfish Toxin’ builds a natural soundscape of gull calls around the fairground melody, underwater-esque distortion on the keys, before softened beats break through. This is the strange and the sublime other-worldliness of the ocean, breathy backing vocals gliding by as colours flash mute to garish in strobe light intermittently breaking into the depths. A calm surface hiding something sinister below.

A party at the end of the world it’s uncomfortable on first listen – an unprovoked drive-by-shouting of an album. This is an invite to loose the shackles of structure and give yourself over to form as elements of classic rock, drone, post-punk, garage, and electro wash up against each other in a rough and unrelenting sea of sound, stirred by a commitment to pure creative energy.


Find Tropical Fuck Storm on Bandcamp and Spotify.

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica. A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist. Follow her @sarahlay

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