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Originally intended as a way to clear the cobwebs from the success of the great Australian band the Drones, three albums in Tropical Fuck Storm is clearly the full-time occupation for all involved. Unsurprisingly reflecting the difficult times in which it was made and lived, Deep States continues the Melbourne quartet’s mission of deconstruction, tearing down two guitars/bass/drums rock music in order to build it back up. Not so much melding psychedelia, hip-hop, noise punk, gutbucket blues and some sort of art music from another planet as throwing elements of each against the wall and utilizing what sticks, singer/guitarist Gareth Liddiard, singer/bassist Fiona Kitschin, singer/guitarist/keyboardist Erica Dunn and drummer Lauren Hummel channel a year of frustration, boredom, fear and rage into a set of savagely sarcastic songs.
The band wastes no time taking aim at the biggest target it can, speaking for a cynical, apathetic Almighty in the disk-opening “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” TFS casts nearly as wide a net on “Suburbiopia,” giving the listener their choice of glitch-rocking conspiracy theories: “They’re probably wrong but they may be right.” Telling interlocked stories of crisis profiteers, “Reporting of a Failed Campaign” weaves its characters into a tapestry of guitar squeals, lightly touched rhythms and the withering riposte “Time’s no friend of liars.” “The Donkey” reaches back to the days of the Drones’ feedback epics for a clamorous take on border crossings, while the existentially enigmatic “Legal Ghost,” one of Liddiard’s earliest songs, comes from his Bong Odyssey project with erstwhile Drones axeperson Rui Pereira. The seasick “Bummer Sanga” gives voice to the newly agoraphobic, while, over a clattering beat and sparse arrangement, the sneering exhaustion of “G.A.F.F.” (“give a fuck fatigue,” natch) speaks for nearly everyone. For all of that, however, TFS digs up some sympathy for Jan. 6 insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt in “Blue Beam Baby,” taking to task not so much Babbitt (who was shot during the chaos) as Serge Monast’s Project Bluebeam writings, a conspiracy theory tailor-made for desperate Q adherents.
Given the wide range of contemporary sociopolitical topics on TFS’s radar, one might think Deep States borders on the preachy. But one would be wrong – the band throws out its stories, wrapped in fractured narratives that range from the comical to the demented, and asks listeners to make up their own minds, or not. Ultimately, while thoughts may well be provoked, the goal here is for Tropical Fuck Storm to do what it always does: rock out in its own idiosyncratic, highly individual way.
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