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Is Tropical – Native To

June 17, 2011 by  

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Is Tropical – Native To

NAME: Is Tropical
ALBUM: Native To
DATE: 13June2011

LABEL: Kitsune


FIVE WORD REVIEW: A vintage Chateauneuf du Tap


LINE UP: Gary Barber, Dominic Apa and Simon Milner


WHAT’S THE STORY?: Is Tropical are based in London but ply their wares via Paris-based label Kitsune. As a result, their debut full length sometimes presents itself like a London restaurant menu – it may be developed by an English chef but you’ll come out stinking of garlic and with spots of jus down your tie. ‘Native To’ duly obliges, with regular nods to Daft Punk’s quirky, mid-tempo, square wave synthesising and the driving beats of Justice (if not the metal influences).

Nonetheless, they manage to keep things quirky and organic – there are guitars on here, and other noises that sound like actual things made out of something being tapped or scraped or plucked by someone of some sort. It all blends together nicely, and with a canny enough sense of dynamics to get those hands in the air.

So far, so good. But it all comes off sounding a little bit wimpy. Singer Gary Barber is not possessed of a world changing voice, and even when drenched in echoes and fuzz, it can only sit inoffensively on top of the music, rather than take command. It isn’t bad – in fact it’s quite pleasant and unaffected – it’s just that there are very few moments where you really feel the music would be any the less for its absence. In fact, the Coral-esque instrumental jam ‘Seasick Mutiny’ that closes the album is as strong as anything that comes before.

There are enough singles here to promote the album – ‘The Greeks’ has a relentless and addictive momentum and a welcome increase in pace, and ‘South Pacific’ feels like MGMT before they decided they didn’t like having fans. And if you think you’d enjoy a bouncy, jaunty reworking of ‘Mad World’, then ‘Clouds’ comes highly recommended, while the warning “kids beware, evil lurks everywhere… you’ll lose pints of blood” brings to mind the metaphor-laden trigger-happy video for ‘The Greeks’.

And it’s exactly that kind of visceral bite that on the whole is missing from the album – one that is full of winning moments and appealing hooks, but packs neither an emotional nor a physical punch. Bring on the remixes.

SOUNDS LIKE: MGMT, Daft Punk, Hot Chip, Klaxons

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You order a lassi with your curry.


Submitted By Martin Headon



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