4 out of 5
Label: Joyful Noise
Produced by: Gareth Liddiard
Taking a note from fellow Ozzies King Gizzard, Tropical Fuck Storm seem to be in a hurry to release as much material as possible, dropping new albums, EPs or singles every time I turn around. Thankfully for me, and my floor-sagging to-listen-to pile of new releases, TFS have tended towards the latter formats – EPs, singles – making it a bit easier to keep up. And I’m very glad for that, as 4-song cassette Moonburn has renewed my excitement about this band all over, and proves (as with KGLW too, actually) that all these drops are something to get excited about.
Moonburn’s only “unique” material is the opening title track, as the rest are covers – The Stooges’ Ann; Talking Heads’ Heaven – and an “acoustic” version of TFS’ Aspirin, which, don’t worry, is still louder and more restless than any acoustic track you’ve ever heard.
Not being very familiar with the originals of any of these, I suppose that puts me in a spot where it’s all new to me, but I think you can still normally spot moves like this – songs that are perhaps filler (if fun) used as B-sides; they generally just sound different. Not the case here – both Ann and Heaven might as well be TFS songs, and Aspirin both tonally fits the EP, and also makes perfect sense in the sequencing, post the opening two loud tracks and the slowburn closer.
As to that tone: both the TFS songs focus on relationships and regret; Ann is a short burst of idealization – rendered into madness by Fiona’s singing – before Heaven is done up as an after-effect: acceptance of the cyclical nature of life, as presented in TFS’ shaky, unpredictably emotive style.
And I say ‘unpredictable,’ but that’s the only kinda-sorta knock here: Moonburn and Ann are almost structurally exactly the same, just sung by Gareth and then Katia. It’s good that I love the TFS formula used here of burned out folk rock that deconstructs into stereo-rattling breakdowns, but still, from afar, the setup matches.
That aside, what an exciting, smart set of tracks, showing how covers and remakes can be properly wrapped into one’s own sound… and then also wrapped up in a cute lil’ pink cassette.