Tropical Fuck Storm – ‘Submersive Behaviour’

Posted: by The Editor

Australia’s Tropical Fuck Storm can’t help themselves when it comes to being weird. Since 2018, they’ve released 3 full length records and a few EPs, seemingly upping the ante with each release. Presumably, by asking themselves just how deranged rock and guitar music can be until its transformed into something entirely different. Some have lumped them in with psychedelic rock because of their close ties with fellow Aussie garage rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, but that doesn’t really seem to do their sound justice. 

Perhaps they’re more in line with “art-rock,” but that makes them out to be some group of buttoned-up hipster phonies who are competing for grammy nominations, which couldn’t be more wrong. They’re as chaotic and filthy as a “rock band” can be, bringing the chops of vocalists Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin’s previous band The Drones, and combining it with off-the-wall psychedelic production and songwriting. Their newest project, the 5-track Submersive Behaviour, out February 3rd on Joyful Noise, is another foray into the wild cyclone that is Tropical Fuck Storm.

For instance, they’ve extended the mellow 13 and half minute Jimi Hendrix cut “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” into a 17-minute raucous noise odyssey, filled with underwater bass tones and plenty of fuzz to boot.  It maintains the original’s free-from jam middle section but fills it out with more than just bluesy guitar noodling. There’s white noise, hissing distortion, and even some seagull chirps that make you feel as if you’re hearing sounds of the outside world while inside the belly of a whale.

“Moonburn” is kicked off with Liddiard’s signature howl and timid phased out guitar plucking with not much else backing him up, misleading the listener into believing they’re about to hear an off-kilter ballad. However, much like other Tropical Fuck Storm tracks, the band can’t help but stomp on their pedals and wail on needling harmonized riffs lifted straight from the bottom of the ocean. The chunky bass and drum thump of lead single “Ann” follows a similar pattern. They trudge along a filthy path, while Kitschin’s layered vocals keep everything cool and calm until suddenly, the song spirals into a black hole. You’re left holding on for dear life on the back of colliding guitars and whirling noise effects like an amateur space cowboy. 

Submersive Behaviour is not just full of slow burns, though. “The Golden Ratio”’s thudding disco beat and “TAKE, TAKE, TAKE IT” refrain make it one of the bands most lively and danceable cuts, without losing an inch of chaotic guitar sleaze in the process. It’s like a modern era Queens of the Stone Age cut except with courage to be more than just an accessible radio rock hit. In fact, Tropical Fuck Storm as a group embody the rejection of rock n roll dullness—just look at how they’ve named themselves. They clearly have no intention of fitting in.

Disappointing / Average / GoodGreat / Phenomenal

Submersive Behaviour is available on vinyl through Joyful Noise Recordings.

Nate Cross | @BigNafey

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