Is Tropical, a trio from London, are the latest outfit trying to find a winning dance/indie formula. Sadly for those devoted to the cutting edge, there isn’t really anything particularly ground-breaking on their first long-player, Native To.
This, of course, does not take into account the bizarre and shocking video for lead single, The Greeks, which features animated blood exploding from the heads of young children playing drug cartels with water guns. That said, Native To is a fairly consistent LP with tracks that hit the mark more often than not, a feat which a lot of Is Tropical’s recent contemporaries have certainly not been able to pull off.
The album opens with South Pacific, a mystical piece of disco with vocals that, whilst not completely undecipherable, are effects-laden with just a bit of reverb and distortion to add to the intrigue (this trend continues throughout). Land Of The Nod comes off as a fizzy MGMT-esque tune but on a more lo-fi scale, and a thumping beat and a simple-but-effective synth riff make Lies highly enjoyable. It’s also a testament to the band that they can make tunes that, despite their low-budget feel, can sound much bigger and more euphoric than they have any right to be.
The thrills keep on coming after these opening salvos. The Greeks (that of the bloody, explosive, comically violent video) is straightforward electropop dressed up with glittery synthesisers and other effects and Clouds trundles along at a dream-like pace. Think We’re Alone is three minutes of giddy excitement and joy that wouldn’t necessarily feel out of place on Daft Punk‘s Discovery whilst Oranges is an irresistibly upbeat stomper. Unfortunately the album runs out of steam towards the end, with Seasick Mutiny in particular acting as nothing more than a bog-standard instrumental.
Some listeners will bemoan the lack of any real inventiveness and the “composed in a bedroom” sound on Native To but why should it be an obstacle? The tunes here are good enough to warrant repeated listens and when the album hits its stride, it’s got a couple of proper anthems. It’s not trying to be anything particularly clever or innovative – and it’s fair to hope for some sort of evolution for a second album – but the trade off is a satisfying one.