by Evan Welsh (@evanswelsh15)
We are past the point of no return. It’s time to jump headfirst into the chaos, watch as humans consume and capitalize upon every last morsel of our planet and then question why the Earth has turned from a lively sphere into a flaming and misshapen cube.
A year after the release of their debut album, A Laughing Death in Meatspace, the misfit crew of Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel, and Erica Dunn, otherwise known as Tropical Fuck Storm, have delivered a follow-up, Braindrops. There are few groups currently making music that can capture the feeling of absolute insanity of living in the current moment and watching the final stages of pretty much everything so well—Tropical Fuck Storm is absolutely one of those groups, and with the experience of an album under their belt, they have come back even more confident and crazy than before.
Braindrops picks up naturally where A Laughing Death in Meatspace’s batshittery left off—The album opener “Paradise” does a remarkable job of placing listeners back in the world of Tropical Fuck Storm. The song is a heavy, psychedelic madhouse of a track full with kaleidoscopic guitar riffs, explosive choruses, and skull-crushing noise.
A defining feature of Topical Fuck Storm’s music, and one that makes them stand out as more than just a group making crazy, loud music, is the social and political commentary they are able to bake into their erratic music through Liddiard’s abstract, rambling poetry. On songs like “The Planet of Straw Men,” Liddiard explicitly covers absurd and damaging political posturing over an undeniable bass and drum groove that linearly builds towards a bridge of jagged cacophony of electronics, guitars, drums and bass and then onto a relentless chant of “They want the glory of a coup de grâce!” “The Happiest Guy Around,” covers themes of the seemingly innate and unending trait of violence in humans over layers upon layers of drums, screeching electronics and guitar riffs on top of each other that come together in a magnificent, discordant flurry. Throughout Braindrops, Tropical Fuck Storm, despite the apparent immaturity presented by their name and ridiculous album covers, are sophisticatedly able to discuss the current state of things by working in those dialogues both lyrically and sonically.
Even though Tropical Fuck Storm often spends time on the louder, more abrasive side of the spectrum, they also know how to craft, slower, more brooding pieces as well. “Maria 62,” “Aspirin” and “Desert Sands of Venus” are far and away the album’s most subdued offerings. “Maria 62,” despite a few moments of anxious guitars closing in, is mostly a slow-paced psychedelic ballad. “Aspirin” commits almost entirely to being a bass and drum track and “Desert Sands of Venus” is an instrumental cut that plays a bit like Alain Goraguer’s La Planète Sauvage soundtrack through multiple additional layers of distortion, pollution and desolation.
An unforgettable experience that rewards close attention and return listens, Braindrops, like its predecessor, draws from prog, psych, post-punk, and noise, manifesting an album that features stalking grooves, disorienting sonic interjections, and culminating releases that are as violent and rage-filled as they are rapturous. It requires a truly absurd era of history for a band like Tropical Fuck Storm and an album like Braindrops to feel as though they are perfectly situated in their time and completely emotionally honest responses to the world, but here we are.