Tropical Fuck Storm, among the finest of Australia’s legendary psychedelic rock scene, is one of the few bands that properly live up to its name. With deliciously dystopian chaos and a scary knack for somehow knowing your deepest, darkest nightmares, Tropical Fuck Storm is like a hurricane whipping through the corners of your mind with an uncanny self-awareness. Released Aug. 20, the band’s third album, Deep States, though rooted comfortably in experimental punk instrumentation, is anything but reassuring in its symbolism.
Always one strategically placed lyric away from madness, Deep States starts off strong with “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” a perfectly distorted, nonchalant and twisted retelling of the second coming. With his drawling accent, lead singer Gareth Liddiard loudly delivers, “Now I’m back Jack I’m tellin’ ya ‘Come down off the cross’/ Somewhere out therе it’s surely five o’clock.” Throughout the song, listeners are bound to be captivated, even during the strange but on-brand lyrics that build up the intensity before going out with a bang.
The quartet barely gives listeners time to regain their bearings before jumping into “G.A.F.F.” or “give-a-fuck-fatigue” — a staggering song about “the occasional dispassion brought about by the mandatory concern for every perceived injustice that happens.” The strange, muted instrumentals coupled with Liddiard’s frenzied vocals make for a disorienting song — many of the songs to follow on the record feature off-beat instrumentals along with heavy, wailing guitars, crafting an optimal sonic environment for the even more unsettling lyrics.
Deep States is truly a conspiracy theory enthusiast’s playground with songs such as “Suburbiopia” and “Blue Beam Baby,” the latter being a perfect combination of sarcasm and outright outrageousness unpacking the theory that “NASA is working with the UN to pass the antichrist off as the second coming of Jesus.” Fans may begin to sense a trend here.
“Suburbiopia” is instead a haunting song about suicide cults, taking on a slightly industrial sounding melody — if one can even call it a melody. The song features refreshing vocals from guitarist Erica Dunn and bassist Fiona Kitschin. “They’re dead and gone, they’re probably wrong but maybe they were right,” they sing, almost yelling at the listener to pay close attention. The stripped-down, barely structured instrumentals are just enough to add another layer of mystery to the whole album.
Around “The Donkey,” Deep States starts to lose some steam, descending into overly garbled instrumentals and slurred lyricism that culminate to be too much of an unusual auditory experience. But the lapse is brief, with the record increasing in intensity with “New Romeo Agent,” again boasting vocals from Dunn and Kitschin. Chronicling a futuristic romantic tragedy, “New Romeo Agent” is arguably the best track on the album, a glorious blend of energetic guitars and poignant lyricism. Yet, under the gentle layers, the song is still fully saturated with enough punk angst to go around.
Deep States is a messy, raw and enigmatic album, sure to spur multiple existential crises for anyone who gives it a listen. Not only is it jarringly relatable, but the album’s main goal is to make its listeners uncomfortable. The off-kilter beats seldom sound tired, except for a fleeting moment; yet, the rhythm picks back up with resounding speed, engulfing listeners in a fever dream that simultaneously feels like a drunken stupor. That, however, is what makes parts of the album so alluring. It’s almost like watching a train wreck on psychedelics — it’s so mesmerizing that you can’t stop listening, no matter how horrifying it becomes.
If you don’t pay attention, Deep States will pass you by as an album to be dismissed. If you give it your full and unyielding attention, focusing on the treasure trove that is the lyrics on the album and the thought put into each unsettling chord, Deep States is a sublime mix of good old Australian sarcasm and much-needed social commentary.